The weather is warming up and restaurants are opening up their patios. This is a great opportunity to bring in a new type of diner – one that prefers drinking out of a bowl, gives big, wet kisses and is almost always cute. Dogs are man and woman’s best friend so why not encourage them to dine together?
There may be some concerns with allowing, much less encouraging, the public to have their dogs on restaurant patios. Issues like health, safety and noise control might be some of those concerns. On the flip side, allowing doggy diners has many benefits as well.
First, consider this: for 2013, the American Pet Products Association estimates that United States consumers will spend $55.53 billion on pets. That’s up from $53.33 billion in 2012, according to the American Pet Products Association. People love lavishing their pets in a wide variety of ways. In the United States, pets are becoming more and more part of the family.
The pet community sticks together. Rescue groups, shelters and breed groups hold events for their cause. They would benefit greatly from partnering with a restaurant that also sees the value in animal causes. An Atlanta area Hooters® recently supported an event called “Hooters for Neuters” that raised funds for spays and neuters to help control the pet population. The event significantly boosted the awareness of Hooters® in the area.
It’s important to set the right expectation from the beginning when allowing dogs on restaurant patios. Create and post guidelines for dog owners such as only allowing dogs that are on a leash, are social with the public, are up-to-date on vaccinations and can relax by their owners.
Set yourself apart from others by creating a small dog menu. This will provide an additional benefit to those dining with their pup. Some research is required to determine what ingredients are beneficial and what to avoid, but the concept will certainly boost the dog lover’s interest – and their spend.
When I eat out with my dog, he attracts a lot of attention. People are naturally drawn to dogs and often ask to pet or learn more about his/her breed. For this reason, they may also be drawn to your restaurant when they see dogs enjoying the experience with their owners.