Many downtown Augusta restaurants pet-friendly

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Jack Klosinski and his 4-year-old Keeshond, Dixie, had their pick of eight dog parks, a pet-friendly pier, and a paw playground and beach in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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Branden Green and Samantha Romero sit with their dog, Maple, at Pendleton King Park's Bark Park. The 10,000-square-foot fenced space is Augusta's only dog park.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Branden Green and Samantha Romero sit with their dog, Maple, at Pendleton King Park's Bark Park. The 10,000-square-foot fenced space is Augusta's only dog park.

When they moved to Augusta last year, their dog park selection dwindled to one. But what the two gained was a much-needed canopy of shaded trails and an area that treated pets as valued customers instead of potential health hazards.

Though St. Petersburg outranks Augusta in population, Augusta has what pet industry parlance calls a high “Fido factor.”

In downtown alone, Au­gus­ta matches all of St. Peters­burg in pet-friendly cafés, 17. Plus, bars and coffeehouses are not bound by Florida’s public health codes, which in some cities forbid pets from hopping up on chairs and prohibit restaurant employees from touching a dog while serving food or handling tableware.

“The pet culture here is much more accommodating,” said Klosinski, while Dixie, a stray found on the side of a Memphis interstate, relaxed at Pendleton King Park’s Bark Park.

By 2015, Americans will spend a record $74 billion on their pets, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

Pet owners, or “parents” as many call themselves, are being sold on the simplest of amenities.

Pet hotspots downtown include The Pizza Joint, Metro Pub and Coffeehouse and Eros Bistro, each of which serve dogs their own personal water bowl on patios.

“Whoever wants to come, we’re glad to have you,” said Darcy Hayes, the manager of Metro, one of the first establishments to welcome pets, opening its outdoor seating area to all breeds 13 years ago.

No federal laws apply to dogs in restaurants except for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires restaurants to allow service and guide dogs at dining areas.

The only major federal contribution to restaurant health codes is a recommendation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration against animals at a food establishment.

Florida passed a statute in 2006 allowing cities and counties to permit dogs in outdoor seating areas despite the state ban on animals on the premises. In Georgia, live animals can be allowed in areas not used for food preparation, storage, sales, or display if the contamination of food, utensils and linens cannot result.

When factoring in restaurant chains that allow pets in outdoor seating areas, the Aiken-Augusta area nearly tops the number of dog-friendly restaurants in Houston, which has 35, according to online reports.

Alexandria, Va., holds the coveted title of Dog Town USA in the Southeast, an honor bestowed by Dog Fancy Magazine.

Dog Fancy editor Ernie Slone said the magazine goes through an exhaustive process to determine a winner, analyzing 40 variables before naming a star community. Among the criteria are a city’s euthanasia rate – 70 percent in Augusta – and dog park roster.

Alexandria provides 18 exercise areas and fenced parks for dogs.

Augusta has only one “Bark Park,” 10,000 square feet of fenced space created at Pendleton King Park three years ago to allow dogs to exercise freely.

Chrislynne Kuhlke, a member of the Pendleton King Park Foundation Board, says the Bark Park sees steady traffic throughout the day.

Kuhlke takes her dog to the park every day she can. Her 3-year-old Boxer mix, Trip, is the facility’s recognized mascot.

“I consider it one of the best social events I do everyday,” said Kuhlke, a rental coordinator at the Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities Department. “The dog park is almost like a sorority-fraternity thing. I’ve met friends I will have for a lifetime. We’re really close.”

Kuhlke said the city is considering building a second dog park – possibly funded through the special purpose local option sales tax – and planning more events for pets similar to Howl-a-ween and Woof-stock, past celebrations that featured a 5K run and walk, costume contest and musical performances.

“Augusta is a busy city for pets, and I like it that way,” Klosinki said. “The tree cover, the hiking trails, it beats the beach.”


Pet owners may have a leashed dog with them while in the outdoor seating areas of the following downtown Augusta restaurants:

  • The Pizza Joint, 1245 Broad St.
  • Metro Pub and Coffeehouse, 1054 Broad St.
  • Eros Bistro, 1002 Broad St.
  • Sweet Lou’s Crab Shack and Oyster Bar, 1293 Broad St.
  • Frog Hollow Tavern, 1282 Broad St.
  • Farmhaus Burgers, 1204 Broad St.
  • Mellow Mushroom, 1167 Broad St.
  • Boar’s Head Public House, 1135 Broad St.
  • 1102 Downtown Bar and Grill, 1102 Broad St.
  • Whiskey Bar (Kitchen), 1048 Broad St.
  • Soy Noodle House, 1032 Broad St.
  • Pauley’s Steakhouse, 1022 Broad St.
  • Blue Sky Kitchen, 990 Broad St
  • Nacho Mama’s, 976 Broad St.
  • Stillwater Tap Room, 974 Broad St.
  • Sports Center, 594 Broad St.
  • Café 209, 566 Broad St.

Note: Water bowls are provided at The Pizza Joint, Metro Pub and Coffeehouse, and Eros Bistro

Comments (7) Add comment
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Riverman1 06/15/13 - 05:05 pm
Where do the dogs poop?

Where do the dogs poop?

angedelune 06/16/13 - 06:20 am
downtown is great for pet lovers

I take my husky downtown all the time. You can normally find us sitting outside one of the restaurants, and later at night, The Metro and Stillwater allow me to bring him inside. He's a great hit with everyone there, not only that all of the restaurants will bring him water and treats. No other city i've been to have I seen such a welcoming attitude. We do need another pet park though. I love Pendleton King, but not many people know it even exists.

Riverman1..... really?

catlady8 06/16/13 - 12:56 pm

The responsible dog owner carries Poop Bags with them!
There are also two Dog Parks in Columbia County! Sorry---but they are nicer/cleaner!

happychimer 06/16/13 - 04:34 pm
Pets. I guess my Rambo would

Pets. I guess my Rambo would be welcome too. Of course he does not have a leash. He likes to stay around my neck or hook his tail there and crawl down my back or arms.

dbc 06/16/13 - 05:13 pm
Dogs and Outdoor Dining

Folks with well trained and well mannered dogs should certainly be welcome at outdoor dining restaurants. Well trained and well mannered dogs will not poop at their owners feet and would not cause any other unwanted problems. This makes me want to dine out today!

Dixieman 06/16/13 - 05:31 pm
Great, Just clean up the ----

If Martians ever come to Earth, they are going to go back home and report, "Sir, the two-legged ones deferentially follow the four-legged ones around and clean up their excrement after them, preserving it in little bags, which they often take home, possibly for some religious ceremony conducted behind closed doors. Clearly the four-legged ones are the master race and we should attempt to contact and negotiate with them, not the two-legged servants."

itsanotherday1 06/16/13 - 06:41 pm
Kudos to downtown. I'm sure

Kudos to downtown. I'm sure some that don't like dogs will passionately disagree, and that is their prerogative. This is one of those things that you let the business owner decide and reap the benefits, or suffer the consequences acordingly.

This is something ColCo eateries need to be more sensitive to IMO.

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