Japan’s popular cat cafés inspired the recent trend in urban cafés that cater to people and cats. This winter, if things go according to plans, New York’s first dog café rubberstamped by the Health Department will open on the Lower East Side.
Boris and Horton will open in the spaces vacated by Ost Café and the Raclette cheese shop on the corner of Avenue A and East 12th Street. This is the first dog cafe in New York City (BYOD, Bring Your Own Dog, in Brooklyn, still plans on opening up, but a date hasn’t been determined.)
“There is a complete separation of space between the coffee and dog sides, so if you come alone with your dog, you would grab your coffee and snacks from our walk-up window on 12th street and then come into the dog side, which is set up exactly like a café, plus it will have pet merchandise and a photo booth,” says Logan Holzman, one half of the father-daughter duo that are opening the café.
Boris and Horton are the names of their pooches. Coppy Holzman, Logan’s father, has at pit-mix named Boris, while she has a terrier mix named Horton. They came up with the idea as a way for people who want to grab a coffee or a bite to eat but don’t want to leave their dog at home or tie them up outside.
“We both have a passion for animal rescue and hope to create a space where we can promote the cause through adoption events and fundraisers,” says Logan. “When I lived in New Orleans, I would sit outside my favorite coffee shop with my foster dog in his or her ‘adopt me’ vest, and I found it was a great way to gain exposure for the dog and the rescue.”
The design will be classic with modern touches. The space has distinctive features like a tin ceiling, steel beams, and a multi-color tile floor. “We’re going to keep as much of it as possible but add some pops of color, and of course there will be a dog motif throughout,” says Logan.
One of the first step to getting their idea off the ground was to schedule a visit with the Department of Health to find out how to run the café and still be compliant. They were told that they had to have a complete division of space between the coffee shop side and the dog side. This included separate heating, ventilation and air conditioning units and air-lock double doors.
There will also be separate staff assigned to either side. Cups and dishes on the dog side must be disposable. Patrons will be able to buy dog merchandise, and they even plan to install a photo booth. “People are also welcome to stay on the coffee side and watch all of the dog side action through the glass,” says Logan.
They’re partnering with City of Saints for their coffee. “Their coffee is fantastic, and they do a lot of delicious seasonal drinks,” says Logan. Food will include a selection of fresh pastries, toasts, and other light snacks.
And of course, there will be dog goodies. The café will offer homemade, human quality treats for dogs. Guests will be able to order birthday cakes and cupcakes for those milestone birthdays and special events. They plan to offer personalized gifts so guests can choose a bandana for their pups and have it embroidered with the dog’s name while they wait. The photo booth will also have a fun background and props so guests can take photos with their dogs.
“I always tell people that the benefit to owning a dog is that you actually get to know your neighbors and connect with new people in the dog park or on the street,” says Logan. “We want to create that friendly community feel in our space, promote dog adoptions, and be a resource for pet owners looking for quality products and advice.”
Staff will be on hand to help guests choose treats, training tools, and gear. “The experience is going to be a lot friendlier and more personal than going to your neighborhood Petco,” says Logan. “Our lease is signed and construction will get underway soon, so look for us to launch in early winter.”