Around Western Pa., plenty of places for dogs, owners to dine together
On a recent warm, summer afternoon, John and Rose Marie Burchett enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Ligonier with their Yorkshire terriers, Teddy, 8, and Bunny, 5.
The Waterford couple — and their dogs — are regulars at Paws on Main, a “pet boutique” where the front porch doubles as a dog cafe.
“I love to come to downtown Ligonier anyway. (The dogs) love to come with us for a car ride and they know they can get treats,” says Rose Marie Burchett.
“This is so relaxing,” John Burchett says, as the dogs sprawl at the couple’s feet.
Lori Kaczmarek of Youngwood, along with her family, made the trip to Ligonier to celebrate her dog’s first birthday. Colby Jack was not a bit shy in deciding what he’d like to eat — getting a closer look inside the display case of goodies at Paws on Main.
According to the sandwich board on the sidewalk, “Every Hour is Yappy Hour.”
Angel Tunstall opened the shop at 136 W. Main St. in January. The cafe is patterned after similar businesses she noticed in her travels abroad and in New York.
A Texas transplant, Tunstall says she’s been walking her huskies, Duke and Aspen, in what she calls “dog-friendly” Ligonier for several years.
“I would tie my dog outside Abigail’s (Coffeehouse, 104 Main St.) and run in and get coffee,” she says. The front porch on the business gave her the idea to approach Abigail’s owner, Dianne Stewart.
Tunstall offers diners a two-sided menu. One side features “canine cuisine,” including liver and cheese empanadas, roasted beef tips and cheese burrito, hot diggity dog, a venison, fruit and vegetable gumbo and frozen treats from The Bear & The Rat. She prepares and serves the dogs’ meals at her business, using dedicated dishware for the animals.
Their owners, and other diners, order from Abigail’s Coffeehouse menu. Stewart and her staff prepare and deliver the “people” food, keeping the preparation areas separate.
People are receptive, Tunstall says, but still “wrapping their heads around the idea.”
Fur babies at the table
Throughout the region, numerous restaurants and bars make their customers’ best friends welcome — even the ones who walk on all fours.
Many supply water bowls and, sometimes, treats for their patrons’ dogs.
Special menus and food prepared just for Fido are not yet common in the area, but a few establishments are embracing or considering the concept.
Food purveyors planning to serve those with four legs must provide either an outdoor or separate area, away from other diners, says Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokeswoman.
“You can only have dogs or pets in restaurants under certain conditions: a separate serving area and dedicated servers,” Powers says. “The laws exist to keep servers taking care of pet orders from transferring dog hair and dander into commercial kitchens.”
Some restaurants provide walk-up ordering counters to separate servers from animals.
“Food that’s prepared in a restaurant kitchen has to be fit for human consumption,” Powers adds, regardless of who is consuming it.
Serving plates and utensils also must be dedicated or disposable if used by dogs.
Reusable dishes or placing one’s own plate on the ground for a dog to eat from are no-nos, Powers says: “Folks don’t think about that, because it’s what they do at home.”
“Restaurants have to cater to customers … in a way that does not compromise food safety,” she says.
Double Wide Grill restaurants, with locations on Pittsburgh’s South Side, North Huntingdon and Mars in Butler County, all have space and meals for dogs.
“We do have that option. We started out in Pittsburgh with the Carson Street location. We have a little doggie menu — doggie burgers, bones, treats,” says Branden Bisel, assistant general manager at the North Huntingdon restaurant.
“When we get a nice day we will have a couple of people come out with their dogs. … We still have customers come in and ask. I’d like to get the word out,” he says.
“We just had a dog festival here in the parking lot with vendors. It was a closed-off area, and we got a good turnout. We do that so people can see that we are dog friendly,” he says.
Chowing down with Oscar
Michelle Lucas has a menu for canine customers at Michelle’s Lair in Latrobe.
Dogs can join their owners and other diners on the patio from 3-6 p.m. Sundays for “Furr-Fect Sundays.”
In keeping with preparation/serving regulations, diners can call or text their orders and pick up their food from the bar area, Lucas says.
Oscar’s Menu includes a meatloaf, pasta and gravy dish, a boiled chicken, egg and brown rice casserole, snacks including unseasoned chicken, a plain meatball, flat iron steak and cheese slices.
She also serves Furzee Treats, a cup of vanilla ice cream, for $2.
“I’m also offering birthday parties for dogs, where we will encourage guests to give gifts to the shelter of their choice,” Lucas says.
Treats on the go
Sweetie’s Ice Cream in Allegheny Township sells “doggie dishes” for $1.99 so customers don’t have to endure sad puppy dog eyes while enjoying their own treats.
The dish of ice cream comes with a milk bone — instead of a cherry — on top, an employee says.
The business’s website shows a walk-up ordering counter and outdoor seating.
And if you want to take your dog out for a solo dinner, keep your eyes peeled for the region’s only mobile dog food and treat truck, Rollaway Dog Cafe, based in Cranberry.
4 paws welcome
The website bringfido.com lists numerous regional restaurants and bars where dogs can keep their masters and mistresses company, sans dining.
Four Seasons Brewing Co. and Pub in Latrobe posts its “dog friendly” status on its website. Citing a FDA food code section, it notes dogs can join patrons at outdoor seating only.
Mike’s Beer Bar on the North Side posts photos of visiting dogs with their owners, along with a bowl of dog treats.
The bar, which requires dogs be leashed, has hosted “yappy hours,” when nearby PNC Park holds its “pup night” events.
“We don’t have a kitchen, and we have outdoor seating,” owner Mike Sukitch says.
The establishment is putting in a kitchen, however, and will consult with the Allegheny County Health Department to try to keep the bar dog friendly, Sukitch says: “They are always more than welcome.”
No bones about it.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .