From top: Dog-friendly Oscar’s, Smithfield, Dublin 7; Doggie Date Night at Doyle’s Corner, Phibsboro, Dublin 7
Recent repeal of Irish law has lead to an emerging market for Dublin businesses.
John Donlon writes:
Sitting in a trendy bar in Dublin’s northside, Tippi is young, fair-haired and catches more than her fair share of approving glances.
Having been given a complimentary drink and food by the bar staff, she’s feeling fairly gregarious and happy to be here.
While she’s not a party animal, there are a fair few watering holes between Smithfield, Stoneybatter and Phibsboro where she knows she’ll always be welcome.
This wasn’t always the case and until relatively recently, she would have been shown the door and told where to go in no uncertain terms.
That’s because Tippi is a 3 year old Bichon-Pomeranian mix and a patron of the many now dog-friendly pubs and cafes on the city’s northside.
Where the default in the past would have been ‘no dogs’ (except guide dogs), premises in the capital are increasingly taking the ‘lead’ from the custom on the continent and allowing our furry friends.
Tippi’s ‘dog mother’ and bar manager at Doyle’s Corner bar in Phibsboro, Ciara Kellagher told us about that establishment’s recent ‘Doggy Date Night’ promotion and their dog-friendly policy.
“It was a promotion we did to get a lot of traction on social media, every Wednesday night, you and your partner, friend, whatever, could come in for a two-course meal, a bottle of wine for €40 and you could also bring your dog with you, who also got a doggy beer too.”
With pet ownership steadily increasing from already-high levels, in Ireland, it’s little wonder that a number of establishments are sniffing around this emerging market.
While the promotion was a success in and of itself, garnering Doyle’s some always-appreciated pup-licity online, the real motivation behind it was to get the word out about the new management’s pro-canine position.
“The main thing was kinda to make people aware that we’re a dog-friendly bar, that was the main thing. We did kinda stop it after a while because the word got out there that we were dog-friendly anyways and we didn’t need to push the promotion because people were coming in with their dogs anyways’.”
Doyle’s has the benefit of being structured so that they can provide both a dog-friendly and dog-free area depending on your preference.
“It was not dog-friendly before we took over the bar, but when we took over we made the decision because the bar is split into two halves, our snug bar is dog-friendly but if you don’t like dogs you have the option of sitting in the lounge bar’.”
Given that the presence of dogs in almost any business in Ireland is a relatively new phenomenon, the public seems to have taken to the change fairly rapidly.
The reaction, says Ciara, has been…
“…mostly positive, we’ve only had one complaint from a woman who was allergic to dogs, but we did tell her that if you had made us aware, we could have told you that you can sit on the other side.”
Ciara cites the recent repeal of a 1950s law in Ireland which has paved the way for publicans to decide whether or not they want to allow domestic animals on their premises.
“It was only very recently that the law in Ireland was changed to allow dogs in premises that serve food. I think Dublin’s only now starting to pick up on the trend of that, and more and more there’s more bars and cafes allowing dogs.”
Just down the road, in paws-itively cool Smithfield, Oscar’s bar and cafe share the enthusiasm for our furry friends, though in their case they have found a different way to balance their customers preferences.
Leo Ward of Oscar’s, he relates how they’ve taken to the dog-friendly boom in their own way.
“It’s a cafe bar, but it would also work as a restaurant. We are perfectly accepting of dogs on the outside, the smoking area. On the inside we wouldn’t really take many in.
It’s more of a case if you go there on a Saturday during the day it’s brunch, it’s kind of a restaurant vibe. There’s a lot more food going, so it’s a health and safety thing.”
The common theme across various venues is that this is seen as a fun, friendly but overall lucrative walk in the park for Dublin pubs. He outlines the amount of leash this idea has been given.
“The outside area we have dog bowls, doggie treats, we’re quite supportive, we even have dog beers and all. We do a ‘doggy brunch’ the odd time, that’s all outside. It’s almost like a play area. You get a doggy meal, we do a meal deal where you get your breakfast, you get a doggy beer, you get tea or coffee with it, so it was nice.”
They’ve paid heed to potential fallout and their pro-dog policy is brought to heel at the door.
“There would have to be a line drawn, because of the amount of food service. Dogs shed, there’s germs, things like that, but on the outside it’s perfect, there’s Smithfield square, it’s a nice bright open place, it attracts a real nice crowd.”
There seems to be a level of positivity and collegiality present across the workplaces we spoke to with regards to their new leash on life.
‘”I’ve been there now over a year and we’ve never had an issue with dogs outside. We have actually a stray dog, I think he lives in Smithfield square.
We call him Ziggy, he comes and sits outside all the time and we give him a water bowl and feed him sausages. It’s almost our pet dog, he comes and visits us every day. We’ve given him a name and all, so he’s ours now. We’re all dog people in there, there’s no one against it.”
With public sentiment and the ‘furry pound’ both on their side, it looks like this trend has been adopted graciously and is here to stay.
John Donlon is a Galway-based freelance journalist.
Previously: Dog Friendly Pubs In Dublin (Publin)
Doyle’s Corner pic: Dublinbypub