top of page

Pamper your pooches: Inside NZ's first canine fine dining restaurant

Hotdogs for hot dogs will be on the menu at the country's first restaurant dedicated to canine fine dining.

The new business has the backing of multi-millionaire Bill Smale and has been created by entrepreneur Sam Kim,24, who says he wanted to make human food for dogs- so they could share a similar experience to their owners and not have food envy.

It's kicking off with literal doggy bags - a My Food Bag style delivery service for pampered pooches - before moving into restaurant service with food that Kim says will also be fit for human consumption.

Customers at Dog On Restaurant (a play on Doggone) will be able to order Pizza, Puppacinos, Sushi, Fried Chicken, Tacos, and birthday cakes.

Organic meat and vegetables are being selectively sourced from Auckland suppliers.

"Humans wouldn't go to a supermarket and eat dog roll so why do you think it's safe for pets to eat it. We test our dog food to make sure it's edible. It might look like a pizza and fried chicken but it doesn't taste like KFC. It is steamed chicken coated with pumpkin powder,"Kim said.

Sunny Won, Kim's mother flew to Korea last year to learn how to become a certified pet chef and pet food stylist.

"In Korea, there is a course where you learn to make natural gourmet food from ingredients humans can eat. People tend to feed their dog's dried food which doesn't have much nutritional value and it's difficult for pets to digest. Mum comes up with the recipes and has created her version of KFC chicken, Dominos pizza, sushi, and Tacos. All the food is lactose-free and has no seasoning or spices," Kim said.

Kim's dog, Pama, a Maltese poodle, is happy to be the "guinea pig."

"Pama has acquired a sophisticated palate and won't eat anything else now," Kim said.

Kim and Won were aware that there are stereotypes about Asians eating dogs but it's an "outdated" view.

They have never eaten dog and find the idea of it abhorrent.

" It's rare to eat dogs in Korea now. Most people consider dogs as pets not food. We are disgusted so we don't even think about that. By cooking human food for dogs we are trying to get rid of the stereotype, I think it's important to treat dogs like humans."

Dog On was launched in February and has a large Instagram following targeting university students and Millenials. Gourmet dog food is delivered nationwide, the company hopes to expand in Australia and China soon. The pet food is steam sterilized, vacuum packed, and has a shelf life of nearly a year.

"The average pet owner spends about $300 dollars a month on dog food which is a lot of money for students. Our menu is not that expensive- we make it flexible for Uni students. The portions are smaller but we keep our prices low," Kim said.

Daisy Wu, an IT support engineer at Colenso BBDO, says her fur baby, Benedict, a golden Labrador has acquired a taste for the sushi, fried rice, and drum sticks. She spends $750 a month on food and daycare for Benedict.

"We aren't planning for a child yet but it's also good for us to practice as parents-we treat him as our baby," Wu said.

Kim has a master's degree in Architecture and developed an interest in e-commerce after he was involved in a car accident in 2018 He didn't have car insurance so he started an online business, Aliexpress drop shipping to pay for the damages he caused.

" I crashed into a Maserati and had to repay $10,000 for repairs. I had no insurance but paid back the money in two weeks because Aliexpress was lucrative," Kim said.

Bill Smale, who owns the Smales Farm commercial site along with his brother and cousin-had invested $1million seed money into Niesh, a smartphone app that advises students where to get discounts.

Kim messaged Smale on Facebook, they met and started Gifticon a digital gifting app.

Smale, who owned a dog, Oliver, loved the idea of setting up a dog restaurant with Kim.

" We wanted to do something that was fun. Oli loved coming to the cafe with me. He used to sit outside and have his latte, I think that's what finished him off, he had too many. He would take nibbles out of what we were eating and I thought this might be a good idea to be able to give dogs a meal at the same time," Smale said.

The businessman has visited America and Asia, where dog restaurants and high-end food for pets is "a billion-dollar" industry. He is looking for premises on the North Shore area suitable for a dog restaurant.

"The North Shore area is perfect. A big percentage of our clients live there. We need somewhere near a beach or a park," Smale said. At Dog On, the canines will sit on a bean bag, have their orders taken by a waiter, and watch a dog movie while they dine. They will have to be on a 1-meter lead attached to a low table to avoid dog fights. The restaurant will host birthday parties. Dogs will be given a birthday hat, bib, and edible candles on a cake.

"So many people treat dogs like a part of the family and take them to cafes -so why shouldn't the dog have somewhere to dine. We want the dog to be the special one."

Sunny Won says she prefers cooking for dogs because of their honesty.

"It's easier to please humans by the way you present food but it's easier to please dogs with taste because they don't lie. They turn away if they don't like the look of the food."

1 view0 comments
bottom of page