Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Big Apple Builds Big Doggie Cafe Society

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Big Apple Builds Big Doggie Cafe Society

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- For dog owners and their pets in search of a dinner out together, New York can be a town without pity. Yet with the city's dog population on the increase, man, dog and restaurant seem to be entering a new era of accommodation.

For months, for instance, the canine cognescenti have eagerly anticipated the opening of the Fido Cafe and Lounge, the first indoor place in the city constructed to accommodate people and their pets. In the New York Dog Spa on West 18th Street, the Fido Cafe serves espresso-bar fare and dog snacks.

But if that's booked up, those seeking quality time -- as well as drinks or dinner -- with their pets must settle in restaurants with outdoor seating. Technically, outdoor cafes where no cooking is taking place are the sole preserve for dining a la dog in New York City, said Sandy Mullen, a spokeswoman for the city's department of health. (Fido can serve dogs because it has discrete dining and cooking areas.)

Many outdoor spots now cater to basic canine needs and more places are offering elaborate dog amenities like fanciful water bowls and biscuits. Some places, like the Time Cafe, will cheerfully serve dogs a steak. Others, like Cafe Giardinetto in Murray Hill, have entire dog menus featuring minced turkey breast, chopped beef and an antipasti platter.

But special menus aside, cooks in even the finest restaurants have become accustomed to making dinner for dogs. At Verbena on Irving Place, Diane Forley says her employees are trained to "be as hospitable to pets as they are to their owners." Regulars include a fox terrier, a French bulldog and a Jack Russell, who dines on hanger steak, rare, served cut into bite-size pieces.

Waiters at restaurants all over town have become used to dodging tails that stick out from under tables and pointing out dog- appropriate dishes on their menus. ("They like our burgers," advised a waiter at the Coconut Grill on the Upper East Side. "Medium-rare.")

Busboys fill water bowls as routinely as water glasses. ("No one should go thirsty on a hot summer night," said Mark Oram, the co- owner of the Chelsea Lobster Co. It has just upgraded its dog serving ware from aluminum takeout containers to vintage dog bowls from Fishes Eddy. …

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