A Restaurant Patio for Fido

Dogs have a pretty good gig in the U.S. Over 65 million people have befriended every breed from labradoodle to pug. Many paw-rents want to bring their pooch wherever they go. Is your restaurant ready to welcome the four leggers in the family?

Dog Rules and Regs

The first thing to consider is whether your state allows dogs at your restaurant. Right now, there are 20 states in the U.S. that support it. You can see whether your state is one of them with this interactive map

States that approve of having furry BFFs dine too usually have health and safety laws, plus additional guidelines. You may also need special licensing and want more insurance. 

In many states, you need to plan and implement a way for dogs to access the patio, offer clear signage for restaurant guests, document food safety to prevent cross-contamination, outline cleaning procedures for the area, and commit to cooking and cleaning materials that are safe for dogs.

For Everyone’s Comfort

Make sure furry friends can relieve themselves away from humans eating. This space needs to be large enough that a few dogs at a time could use it. Litter bags and clean up kits should be nearby. Have plenty of hand sanitizer around for guests to use. Consider hiring a dedicated employee to take care of removing dog waste and helping corral any dogs who misbehave. And every four-legged bestie should be on a leash. 

Menu du Dog

In addition to water bowls to keep dogs hydrated, they’ll probably want to eat as well. Who wants jealous canine eyes staring at you? Consider a simple, affordable dog menu with 3-4 choices on it. How about a mini-hamburger or pizza crust, chicken tenders or chicken and sweet potatoes? For dessert, dogs often enjoy offerings like peanut butter and banana popsicles or whipped cream.

The Nautti Dawg Marina Café has a “Yappi Hour” menu that includes mahi, scrambled eggs and chicken breast. 

Outdoor Patio Design

The entrance should be a direct patio access for furry ones so there’s no reason to go inside the restaurant. Like humans, dogs can be sensitive to temperature shifts. So cooling misters for summer and heaters for winter can be part of the plan. Some especially dog-friendly restaurants offer a fenced playground with toys and separate sections for large dogs and small dogs. 

You may want to dedicate a patio section to people-only dining and leave the other half for dogs and people. Our patio experts have 20+ years of experience helping countless restaurants create flexible enclosed patio options with panel walls that “disappear” with the push of a button. Let us know if we can help you attract dog owners with a design that bow wows.