As she was running her La De Da Pet Spa in Orchard Park, Holly Donohue kept hearing the same things about outdoor dog parks. They’re muddy. Aggressive dogs snip and bite. Viruses get spread around. In bad weather, dogs and owners alike are miserable.
These stories inspired Holly to open K9 Barks N Brews in Hamburg, an indoor door park with an attached bar and restaurant.
“Opening K9 Barks N Brews was a combination of expanding our business, wanting to do something different and listening to our customers,” she says.
A typical first visit to Barks N Brews goes like this. Upon walking in, you need to register your dog and have proof of vaccination for rabies, distemper and Bordetella. If your dog is more than 1 year old, they also must be spayed or neutered. After registration, you and your pet go into the park for observation, basically to see if your dog plays well with others. If the dog is a good fit, you could place food and drink orders. You can drink in the park while your dog is off-leash. When a food order is ready, your pooch must be put on a leash and food can be taken to one of the tables in the dog park. The dog should stay on-leash while in the eating area. A fenced-in outdoor area will soon be open, weather-permitting.
When she drew up her business plan for Barks N Brews, Holly says she imagined families, couples and young women would be the biggest part of her customer base. That hasn’t exactly panned out.
“Our customer base does have a lot of families and couples,” she says. “But I definitely thought we would have more single women. We do get men coming in to meet friends. Some of them will meet their friend here for a beer, even if their friend doesn’t have a dog.
“After thinking about it, I realized: A bar does tend to attract men,” she mused.
At the end of the day, people come to Barks N Brews because of one thing, a shared love of dogs. Since opening late last year, the dog park has cultivated a little community of dog lovers. Many of them work a regular day job and want to do something after work but feel guilty leaving their pooch at home. But also, there are people who come in without a dog, just to get what Holly calls “their dog fix.”
“Part of our goal has been to get like-minded people together: people who love dogs and want dogs to be safe,” she says. “Dog owners can still go out to socialize, get a drink, get something to eat – all without keeping the dog locked up.”
The main focus at Barks N Brews is the dogs, as it should be, but there are things there for humans too. The drink menu includes popular beers, hard seltzers, wines by the glass and soft drinks. The food menu focuses on user-friendly, snackable foods like sandwiches, paninis, salads and pizzas. You might not be going to Barks N Brews for the food, but actually, the food is kind of a hit with customers.
“Recently, one of our customers said her husband sounds like an idiot because he’s always talking about how good the pizza is at the indoor dog park,” Holly says. “She said it cracks her up every time and she doesn’t even know why it’s so funny!”
Even though Holly built Barks N Brews as a place for dogs that would likely attract young women, she’s apparently getting comfortable with the idea that all kinds of people come in; for the bar and the pizza: “We’re listed on Google as one of the top three restaurants in the area! So, I guess I should put some food pictures on our Facebook page because all of our pictures have been of the dogs!”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday to Friday 3 p.m. – 8 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Monday CLOSED
K9 Barks N Brews
2866 Pleasant Ave Hamburg, NY 14075 • $$$$$
At K-9 Barks N Brews, we’re dedicated to provide a place in our community where dog loving people can come and play together, with or without a k9 companion. We ...
- Dog-Friendly Indoors
- Good for Beer Lovers
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