Would Lassie eat at your place?

SHADOW dines on a tater tot at SteelCraft in Garden Grove (OC Tribune photo).

In case you haven’t noticed, America – or at least Orange County – is getting more and more doggy.

I see more dogs being walked now than ever before. Not only do you see them striding along side their “masters” (ha! what a joke that is), but also running alongside a bicyclist (of which I do not approve of based on obvious dangers – to the dog, that is).

Dogs, once confined to backyards, have not only taken over the house and the sidewalks, but are now in stores. Retailers made fruitless efforts to confine canine shopping to certified assistance dogs, but it was a losing dog-fight. Now you see German Shepherds in Vons and pugs in Target. I guess store managers have finally come to the conclusion that dogs are less trouble than many kids, and very few of them are involved in smash-and-grab robberies.

This trend extends now to restaurants. Aside from “seeing-eye” dogs and their cousins, canines have long been banned from eateries, not unreasonably. But with the coronavirus pandemic, Americans began eating al fresco, outdoors and smart operators supplied a patio or “parklet” to take advantage both of the nice weather and people’s desire to dine with Man’s Best …. pardon me, Person’s Best Friend.

This influences our dining choices. Shadow, our sweet but pushy black flat-coated retriever (think a black lab, but with a narrower face), insists on going wherever we go. Since we dine out a lot, that often means picking a restaurant that is flattie-friendly. We started with the Azteca Mexican restaurant on Main Street in Garden Grove – where they bring Shadow a bowl of water, unasked – and added Louie’s across the street and Kaye’s Kitchen nearby.

SteelCraft on Euclid positively invites dogs, and The Habit has wide patios and umbrellas on top of a top-notch burger.

Still on the list to visit are Oggi’s Italian at Chapman and Harbor and the Hof’s Hut in Seal Beach, both of which have enclosed patios where pooches can be present.

New restaurants are popping up all the time. If I were about to open one, I would ask myself three questions.
First, do I have enough money to sustain my business until it “catches on”? Second, is my food good enough to generate the kind of word of mouth that speeds up patronage and creates waiting lists?

And third, can I get the mayor’s dog to make a celebrity endorsement?

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