Barking Blondes: A right dog’s dinner
A caller to our radio show, once described the magical scene of dining in a fine Parisienne restaurant, whilst watching Yves San Laurent accompanied by his dogs at the next table. This picture of civilized dining between man and “his best friend” is years away from being replicated here in the West End.
Whilst anti-dog campaigners succeed in having dogs banned from many shops, cafes and even pubs there is little likelihood you will ever see one at the scene of fine dining.
However, there are some forward thinking canine entrepreneurs out there who are wise enough to optimize the value of the ‘hound-pound’.
Although, as a nation of animal lovers, London is years away from the liberal habits of Paris or New York as far as dog-friendliness is concerned.
Much celebration then this week when London dogs barked with joy as a new Pop-Up café launched in the heart of Soho on Frith Street. Named Ciao Chow, this landmark addition to the doggy scene emulates a true New York style Italian deli.
Serving skinny Lattes and paninis for owners, their four-legged friends have a dedicated patisserie menu reminiscent of a vintage Italian bakery, somewhere between Palermo and NYC’s Little Italy with a dash of The Godfather and a good helping of Roman Holiday. All the delicacies are baked on the premises and focus on health boosting, perfect for the Metropolitan health conscious mutt.
The proprietors making use of the Pop-Up experience to date only tailored by dogs with Lilly’s Kitchen and their doggy diner in Pimlico, a couple of years ago. We were regulars at this popular pop up diner, which got tongues and tails wagging with its kitsch interior and mouth watering ‘plats du jour’ etched on the ‘specials’ blackboard.
Our Bull Breeds, Molly and Matilda, are like other London pooches delight at the prospect of London opening its doors to cafes and diners that are dog-friendly. Interestingly with the pet industry booming up 7.5 per cent annually despite the recession, with the sector just for dog treats worth over £580,000 – could Ciao Chow be setting a trend?
According to a Kennel Club survey dog owners earn more than cat owners, and are more likely to offer a tip, so its seems a shame that so many establishments still ban dogs, or have restrictions on doggy custom based on height and weight. Imagine if people were restricted in such a way?!
Entrepreneur Mark Watty the brains behind Ciao Chow is passionate to break the mould and champion ‘open for dogs’. Proving a point the Pop-Up café is also hosting fun events and dog owner get togethers like doggy art evenings. Dogs take to the paints themselves creating unique works of art to challenge any budding Picasso – simply genius.
It’s a way of uniting dog owners in new ways, bringing us together and making a statement against those who choose not to be ‘open for dogs’. That’s our point – it is a choice, it is not illegal or against health and safety to have a dog where food is served.
Top department store, John Lewis has recently launched a pet concession in-store. A great move but we’re hoping it won’t be long before dogs will be allowed in store just as dogs are allowed into many stores in Paris and New York.
‘Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99
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