Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Double Wide Back to Serving Dogs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Double Wide Back to Serving Dogs

Article excerpt

Tell most restaurateurs that their places have gone to the dogs, and you'd be paying them an insult. Say the same to Steve Zumoff and not only would he agree, but admit that's kind of the idea at the Double Wide Grill.

Because in this case, it's nothing to do with quality of food or service. Rather, Mr. Zumoff's South Side restaurant recently received approval on a meticulously crafted variance to allow dogs on the premises of its expansive front patio.

Opened in 2006 in an old Carson Street service station, the Double Wide developed a fiercely loyal following among neighborhood dog owners, who might stop for a nosh or a nip with Fido in tow.

Embracing their canine clientele, the restaurant added a small "doggie" menu -- chicken, hamburger meat, or tofu "for vegetarian dogs," Mr. Zumoff joked. Water bowls and treats were kept on hand. The restaurant even adopted a cartoon mascot: a three-legged dog named "Lucky."

But not every visitor was as enthusiastic. Complaints -- no word if they were from jealous cats -- eventually reached the Allegheny County Health Department, and in 2011 the Double Wide was told to end the practice.

Steve Steingart, chief of the County's food safety program, said that because Double Wide's patio is fenced in -- and hence part of the premises -- it has to be treated the same as the restaurant's interior, where only service or police dogs are permitted. (He added that other restaurants that use public sidewalks for outdoor seating areas aren't subject to the same scrutiny and can allow dogs outside.)

Mr. Zumoff, a dog lover, was undeterred. He researched laws in various states and municipalities that allowed for dogs and diners to mingle.

"Every city and state has different decrees and you know Pennsylvania -- there are always more rules here," he said.

"I just got back from San Diego, where I sat at a restaurant table next to a couple with a dog that licked me," Mr. Steingart said. "Personally, it doesn't bother me. But there are many people who it does bother."

The biggest concern has to do with cross-contamination -- so much for the adage about a dog's mouth being cleaner than a person's.

Mr. Zumoff also copied some of the rules used at PNC Park during the Pirates' popular "Pup Nights" promotions during which fans can bring their dogs to the ballpark and sit in a cordoned area. …

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