What's all the fuss about dogs in restaurants?

What’s all the fuss about dogs in restaurants?

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There's a lot of yapping about dogs in restaurants lately. Is it sanitary? Who regulates it? Why do two establishments that are part of the same restaurant concept differ on their pooch policies? These discrepancies have created quite a stir, and at the end of the day, how an owner goes about regulating four-legged companions at the dinner table might depend on a number of considerations. 

What restaurant owners should consider
First and foremost, the law is a major factor. While there isn't a national regulation, each state has a number of laws that pertain to health and safety. Before deciding whether you will let dog diners into your restaurant or not, do a little research. Depending on where you live, it might not even be plausible.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offer guidelines on dogs in restaurants, and although many people adhere to them, they're not mandated by law. However, the exception to the rule is the American Disabilities Act, which states that all restaurants must allow service dogs into their establishments. Aside from that, health care inspectors and unhappy customers are some of the only other factors that might coincide with an owner's decision to allow dogs into their businesses.

Thinking about customers and health inspectors
Although America is certainly a dog-loving nation, a lot of people are grossed out by furry pets hanging around their dinner. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, somewhere between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies have reactions to dogs or cats. Although they're only a fraction of the population, it's still a decent amount of people who will walk through the doors of your business seeking a lovely meal out sans excessive sneezing. 

In addition to these concerns, letting dogs dine with patrons puts your restaurant under further scrutiny by health inspectors. In some cases, they've made the call to put a stop to dog dining altogether. As Claycord.com reported, the health department banned all but service dogs from the Lazy Dog Restaurant, a place where they were openly welcomed at – in case you couldn't tell by its name. Yet, despite these incidences, plenty of places are still going forth with allowing four-legged friends to hang out for a bite to eat.

Dog dining sweeps the nation
Dog dining has actually become something of a trend in some places. Green Street restaurant in Miami was mentioned as one of the top dog-friendly restaurants in the city by Miami News in 2012. As the publication stated, patrons of all species – whether they have feathers or fur – are greeted warmly by employees who work there.

According to the folks at Miami News, they've "seen it all" at Green Street, which encompasses everything from a parrot birthday party to brunch with a poodle. For many places, opening business up to dogs has worked wonders.

Reporters from the Denver Post chatted up restaurant owners after the city began allowing pooches on patios under a new set of rules back in May. Since places like Jake's restaurant have been able to serve food in "dog zones," they've found that business has taken off. 

"It's been really popular," Helen Sierminski, Jake's assistant general manager, told the publication. "There's definitely days where almost every seat is taken out there."

Other restaurants across the nation that are considering permitting dogs in their establishments should really think about their demographics, health inspectors and general layout of the buildings. While dog dining has become a niche for some restaurants, others may find it to be a nuisance. It's a very personal decision that should reflect the values and vibe of the establishment. 

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