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Dog-friendly menus are taking over New York dining this spring

The dog menu at The Wilson
Photograph: Courtesy Jenna Murray/IGC Hospitality) The dog menu at The Wilson

At the new Bourke Street Bakery, the first-ever New York expansion of the beloved Sydney café by Paul Allam and Jessica Grynberg, baked goods include delicious sausage pastries, lemon curd tarts and PB & J croissants, alongside freshly-milled bread and an assortment of other favorites. Guests are already lining up outside the recently-opened NoMad spot, but their tote bags signal something beyond their strong Australian fan base. Illustrated with barking dogs, the new bakery's bag represents a growing trend in New York: not only do people love their dogs but they want them in their cafés. New York will be getting not one—but four—menus created for dogs this Spring, in addition to the recent immersive dog pop-up  and rooftop bar party with puppies.

But these new-fangled cafés with menus made with dogs in mind are a bit different from the cat cafés that first cropped up in New York a few years back (and, which, let's face it, were totally overhyped and a bit awkward). These aren't spots to pet random animals while you sip a cup of coffee. Rather, these are dining experiences specifically curated so you can bring your very own Air Bud along and treat them to same gourmand experience you're having.

Photograph: Courtesy Jenna Murray/IGC Hospitality

Last month Chelsea's all-day spot The Wilson debuted a dog menu, in addition to food catering to their owners. On the menu for dogs there's a whopping $42 steak with grilled vegetables, pan-roasted salmon ($28) and a grilled chicken breast ($16), each meant to be shared by a few pooches. Each month, proceeds from the dog menu go to a related charity. Until the end of May, proceeds will go to Canine Companions for Independence. "Why not include ALL of our friends when we dine out? My wife and I have a very sensitive English Bulldog named Stella. I cook the items on the menu for her at home and she loves them so it made sense to offer her 'favorites' at The Wilson," says Culinary Director Jeff Haskell.  

Other more interesting dog-friendly concepts include a new ice cream shop coming to Bushwick called Ollie's Ice Cream + Stuff . Ollie's joins the growing number of spaces like Williamsburg's Lucky Dog or Do or Dive bar, allowing pets to come inside with their owners. But what makes Ollie's Ice Cream more special is the dessert spot will be the first-ever ice cream parlor in NYC making flavors dogs can actually eat, too. Ollie's will have about eight or more flavors provided through partnerships with other local ice cream makers such as Midnight Mint Chocolate Chip, Sea Salt Carmel and Nitro Cold Brew, many of which will be vegan-friendly. The dog-friendly flavors will be created by owner Eric Kyriakopoulos; most notably the “Peanut Butter Pumpkin Butt" made with pumpkin purée, peanut butter and cashew yogurt. Kyriakopoulos is a longtime neighborhood bartender-turned-barktender. He and his partner, Isabel Klee (from The Dogist) are foster parents of dogs and have a rescue dog, Simon, with over 40K+ Instagram followers. An opening date has not yet been set.

Molly, Grounds & Hounds founder, Jordan Karcher's dog

On Saturday, May 18th Jonathan Adler's UWS Columbus Circle location will host its own Puppy Café pop-up. The event is a collaboration with Grounds & Hounds, who uses the sales of its fair trade coffee to support no-kill shelters. The even will celebrate "all things caffeinated and cuddly" with a complimentary coffee bar and discounts to the store which you can shop with your favorite canine. The first 15 pups in the door will receive a special treat from BarkBox and can be photographed by an Instagram dog influencer. Hearts & Bones Rescue will also bring doggos looking for forever homes. 

Photograph: Courtesy JustFoodForDogs

Today, a new 1,350-square-foot "health and wellness kitchen" for dogs will open at Petco in Union Square, where you can treat your furry friend to gourmet fast-casual after you stop by the Dig Inn down the street for yourself. Supposedly the kitchen by JustFoodForDogs is the "first-of-its-kind" on the East Coast serving USDA-certified pet-friendly food from scratch with recipes like beef with russet potatoes, turkey and whole wheat macaroni, as well as venison with squash. The adjoining pantry will be stocked with make-at-home meals, grab-n-go snacks, as well as vitamins and supplements for dogs (based on a 30lb pound dog, each day comes to about $3.70). All JustFoodForDogs meals are prepared in-house by veterinarians. The grand opening party on May 19th will coincide with Adoptapooloza. 

We can't believe so many New Yorkers with crammed apartments and full-time jobs are able to have their own fluffy friends (kudos to you, we're jealous!). Still, we find it hard to believe that dogs are connoisseurs of cuisine enough to notice the difference between a nibble of a Trade Joe's cutlets and some of these dining offerings. Nevertheless, the conversation around dog-friendly menus comes at an interesting time as a restaurateur in New York is currently being sued for refusing a customer from bringing in a service dog. And, hopefully, these new dog dining destinations won't be as horrifying as the hyper-realistic dog-shaped ice creams that were at the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy. Would you take your dogs to these dining experiences? 

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