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Canine cuisine gives paws for delight

Pooches with a penchant for gourmet canine cuisine have their paws at the ready to book a table once Auckland’s new restaurant for dogs opens.

Dog On Restaurant’s grand opening has been delayed due to Covid restrictions but in the meantime the restaurant’s online ‘My Food Bag’-style gourmet, human grade meals for dogs has built up a huge following.

All meals are created by a skilled chef in Dog On’s Parnell Kitchen restaurant with co-founder Sam Kim obtaining some great doggy cooking tips from his mum.

Business partner and director Bill Smale says they’re expecting pooches and their owner accompaniments to be pawing the door down once the new Westgate Dog On Restaurant is allowed to open. Each of the 20 to 25 low, doggy height tables, some inside, some out, has a short lead to ensure any dine in customers toe the line and there’s no scrapping between tables. Owners can dine with their precious pets, enjoying a coffee, muffin or snack, but “it’s all about the dogs”, says Bill.

There won’t be any need for soft music in this restaurant with plenty of anticipated background barking and at least there will be no complaints to the chef. That’s unlikely anyway with delicious, home cooked pizza, sushi, ‘Pupsticks’ – Dog On’s take on chicken drumsticks, beef and chicken jerky treats, and the very popular range of beautifully decorated birthday cakes, all starring on the menu. All dishes are made with natural ingredients and all are edible for humans, although Bill says dogs enjoy a more bland style of food.

Bill and Sam are looking to hire three junior chefs from AUT to work part or full-time, and some of AUT’s drama students to add that touch of theatre and class to the table service.

Each four-legged customer will be greeted and a small bib will be tied on to ensure there’s no sloppiness at the table.

It’s even possible that eventually red and white, non-alcoholic wine will be served in little cups also – ‘Pup Noir’ and ‘Pupnot Gris’. Work is underway in the kitchen to develop these.

Hopefully nobody will have to be removed from the premises for bad behaviour or overindulgence. “We’ve already gained a huge following with our fresh, couriered, online food orders and the bulk of our customers have been pocket dogs so far,” says Bill.

The concept of dine in dogs is already being trialled with a few Auckland cafes, using large open decks. Bill says they see their concept and product as a great way to boost the offering and business for many other cafes that may be struggling after the long lockdown also. “We’re looking at working with cafes to bring our gourmet dog meals in as another line so that both humans and dogs can dine in together. It will make a huge difference to business during these times.”

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