Britain is, without doubt, a nation of pet lovers. From our beloved family pets to indispensible companions we lavish affection – and money – on our four legged friends. Traditionally the hospitality industry has had a rather stand-offish relationship with animals, with only service dogs readily welcomed into the inner sanctum of eateries (while lesser dogs have to make do with a single bowl of water strategically positioned outside). However, the tide is turning. Recently several enterprising hospitality businesses have begun to open their doors to pets as well as their owners – cleverly tapping into the highly lucrative market of over 30 million people which has been ignored for years. A great example of this is Central Bark – a dog-friendly cafe which is enjoying great success in Manchester while “cat cafes” are busy catering to the feline trade.
So how can you make your cafe, bistro or other hospitality venue is a pet friendly zone? We’ve done a little research and come up with a few ideas to give you ‘paws’ for thought (sorry – we couldn’t resist).
Doggy dining and catty cuisine
While certain animals have been on the menu for years, having to cater for our four-legged friends is recent innovation. However, that’s not to say there aren’t lots of ways you can easily introduce pet-pleasing treats onto your normal bill of fayre. Enterprising cafes and bistros are starting to produce special dog or cat-friendly menu choices with ingredients which are appropriate for the dietary requirements of this new trade. Specially prepared ice-creams and shakes are being marketed for dogs to enjoy in hot weather, while a few high end restaurants in London are beginning to introduce top-quality beef biscuits and even puppy granola!
Introducing a pet-menu is certainly a fun and highly marketable way of luring in customers who are happy to pay a premium for the privilege of dining with their furry friends!
Pet friendly fur-cilities
While some people might not object to Rover or Tiddles joining them at the kitchen table, hygiene regulations mean that pets’ eating from the same tables as human customers is a non-starter. Therefore, you could introduce a special space on the floor nearby for doggy diners – complete with attractive bowls and an easily cleanable plastic feeding mat to protect flooring from pooches with messy eating habits. While animals are naturally banned from areas where food is being prepared consideration should also be given to other diners who may not relish the idea of sharing their eating space with someone else’s pet – In this case a separate dining area for dogs or cats and their owners is likely a necessity.
Of course, just as is the case with human customers, pets require adequate toilet facilities. Consequently, your venue should have space for animals to enjoy a little ‘private time’ – preferably outside with adequate facilities for owners to clean up adequately afterwards. In addition a safe outside space where dogs can play with a few appropriate toys will also set tails wagging.
Needless to say the wisdom of allowing cats AND dogs to dine together is questionable, at best. Therefore, you’re going to have to pick a side. In terms of staff, consideration should also be given to a range of potential problems, including allergies, phobias and even the prospect of increased insurance to cover the possibility of one of your new pet customers deciding to register their dissatisfaction with the service by biting the serving staff…