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How To Accommodate a Pet-Owning Patronage

How To Accommodate a Pet-Owning Patronage 

By Mary Jane Gallagher

The race is always on for restaurateurs who want to capture a more cosmopolitan crowd and with the growing number of pet owners in South Africa, a dog-friendly restaurant is the way to go. Studies show that South Africans spend around R300 to R600 million on pet food per year, which is a fair market for restaurateurs to tap into, even if it’s just to add a pet-friendly boerie roll to the menu. But simply opening up patronage to pets is about more than just a few clever dishes to the menu. Your restaurant has to be able to accommodate the furbabies.

Location, Location, Location 

While you might attract some furbaby parents when you’re in the middle of a mall or at the top of a high-rise building, you’re more likely to appeal to pet owners near pet hotspots such as dog-friendly parks, beaches, promenades, walkways, and trails. Be sure to have clear, visible signage that prominently displays that you’re a pet-friendly establishment, not only to attract patrons, but also to dissuade those who might cause a ruckus when the local dog walker descends with his pups in hand. The location may also determine whether pets are allowed on the premises, for instance, if you’re in a building where pets aren’t allowed, convincing a landlord to give the go-ahead might be a tough beat.

Pet-Friendly Setup 

There’s more to a pet-friendly setup than merely placid bowls of water under every table. It’s also important that there is enough room to accommodate pets. You may also want to alert patrons to designated pet-friendly areas, such as covered balconies or outside areas if the interior of the restaurant is not able to accommodate pooches. It’s important to have a clear idea of the seating arrangement, especially if you’re happy to accommodate larger breeds as well. Low tables and Great Danes might make for an interesting day out—and a few missing hamburgers. It’s also important to give the tables enough space for pooches to have their own areas to stretch out and sleep without creating a safety hazard or blocking the flow of traffic.

Dealing With The Oopsies 

The onus is on the pet owner to ensure they know pet etiquette and many restaurants that allow pets, do so under the condition that they’re well behaved and on a leash. There is also the silent understanding that the pet is toilet trained. A restaurateur should also know that animals do not always behave the way we want them too, even those they consider like children. When an oopsie happens, it’s important to have the necessary cleaning materials (non-toxic) to deal with the matter quickly and efficiently to keep hygiene levels up. It also helps to have easy-to-clean flooring that won’t retain odours or stain. Owners also need to ensure that their pets are properly socialized in order to act appropriately around other animals, owners, and restaurant staff.

Whether you’re thinking of catering purely for handsakbrakkies or you’re willing to splash out on more space for larger breeds, proper planning will ensure that your patrons are happy at all levels. Be sure to prepare for potential hazards and develop a tasty meatball recipe or two. Your furry patrons will love you for it!