Hunter wags his tail as he is petted by Alexis Walker on the patio of what is now the Boat Club Restaurant & Bar. Walker and Sam Braseth were at the restaurant to enjoy happy hour with Hunter. News Tribune file photo.

Dogs are absolutely welcome in food establishments, as long as…

Many Duluth area restaurants and businesses are filling in that blank to accommodate a growing trend in pet ownership. According to a 2016 survey by the Harris Poll, 95 percent of pet owners consider their pets part of the family. And more and more, those four-legged family members are accompanying their owners to local businesses and eateries.

Josh Stotts, owner of Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake, 805 E. Superior St., said the restaurant receives frequent phone calls in warmer months from people who want to know if dogs are allowed on the patio.

“People are looking to be able to bring their dog with them when they go out,” he said. “We love having dogs on our patio. We look at it as a good way for people to socialize dogs, especially when they are puppies.”

Stotts said all breeds are welcome, as long as the dogs are well-behaved.

“We’ve had Jack Russell terriers, pit bulls, rottweilers and great Danes here, and we’ve never had a problem,” he said. “We just don’t want them running all over the patio, mainly for the safety of our team carrying food.”

Dogs are also welcomed at the Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe, 394 S. Lake Ave.

“If the dog is well-behaved, why not take it (to the restaurant),” said manager Alicia Bastion. “It is definitely a trending change. I think one time this past summer I came in, and every single table had a dog.”

While Bastion said they have never had a problem with unruly dogs, they do occasionally have issues with pet owners who want to sit with their dogs inside the building.

“We have to ask people to leave if they bring their dog in and it is not a service animal. It happens almost every day during the summer,” she said.

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They have received specialized training to perform tasks that are directly related to a person’s disability, and they are considered working animals and not pets.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, businesses that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service animal and to proceed into any area of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.

Animals that are not service animals are typically not allowed inside food establishments.

Bastion said most diners are aware of and support those rules. She said people who are inside the restaurant tend to get annoyed when pet owners bring their dogs inside. However, people who are dining on the patio don’t seem to mind and, in fact, often enjoy seeing dogs at nearby tables.

The Boat Club and A Place for Fido work together to offer Doggie Yappy Hour on Tuesday afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Diners and their dogs can sit outside at the Fitger’s Brewery Complex courtyard and enjoy food, drinks and a great view of the lake.

Again, the only stipulations are that the dogs are leashed and well-behaved.

“The whole Fitger’s complex works together as a team to try and make the complex a destination for fun, shopping and eating,” said Jamie Parent, co-owner of A Place for Fido.

Many area restaurants allow well-behaved dogs on their outdoor patios during the warmer months. Just call ahead to confirm that the restaurant of your choice is open to dogs.

Dogs are allowed year-round in Matilda’s Dog Bakery and Boutique, 4521 E Superior St., provided they meet certain criteria.

“We will allow dogs if they are on a leash and have pottied beforehand,” said owner Joanne Elliot. “They must be well-behaved.”

Elliot said she sometimes limits the number of dogs in the store, particularly if they are big. If there are a couple of dogs already inside, she might ask a customer to wait outside for a few minutes.

“This is a confined area with food,” Elliot said. “It’s kind of a recipe for disaster.”

Even so, Elliot said most of the dogs she sees are well-behaved. And when there is a problem, she often has a hard time getting upset at the dog.

“Ninety percent of the problems we have are not the dog’s fault,” she said. “Often it is because the pet owners are not paying attention.”

Making a list

Lyanne Valdez at CBS 3 in Duluth has compiled a guide for dining with dogs, which quickly made the rounds on social media after it was posted on March 26. She invites people to add to the list by emailing her at

• Famous Dave’s
• Green Mill
• Canal Park Brewing
• Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill
• Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe
• Northern Waters Smokehaus
• At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe
• Vita Pizza
• Bellisio’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar
• Mexico Lindo Restaurant
• Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake
• OMC Smokehouse
• Pickwick Restaurant & Pub
• Bent Paddle
• Lake Ave Restaurant & Bar (small dogs that can be lifted onto the patio)
• Va Bene Caffe (front of the restaurant only)
• The Other Place Bar and Grill (must go through outside doors)
• Boat Club Restaurant (Yappy Hour on Tuesdays after Memorial Day)
• Brewhouse
• Ursa Minor Brewing
• Letica’s Iron Mug
• Earth Rider Brewery’s Cedar Lounge taproom

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