Thursday, March 30, 2006

Going to the dogs

A colleague at Nation’s Restaurant News is drafting a story about the efforts of full-service chains to pull more children—presumably with parents in tow—away from fast-food restaurants. Judging from what I hear over the cubicle partition, she’s uncovered plenty of activity. But you have to wonder, given recent news developments, if those places should be focusing on another member of the family. And not Mom or Dad, either. They’ve had their day in the cross hairs. The target of the spring and summer, believe it or not, could prove to be Fido.

Loyal readers will know I pulled a Jerry Seinfeld after legislation was proposed in Florida to permit human-canine co-seating in restaurants’ outdoor dining areas. I mean, what’s up with that? It’s not that the proposal is dumb. It’s just a patently trivial matter, given more pressing concerns like healthcare and immigration reform. And I say that as the housemate of two dogs who have lives most rock stars would envy.

Well, the proposal is well on its way to being passed. The surviving measure allows cities to exempt outdoor seating areas from state regulations that ban dogs from areas where food is served and consumed. Certain conditions have to be met, and the go-ahead is technically a three-year test, with a review expected at the conclusion of that period. But the cat lobby clearly failed, overcome by pro-dog support that could only be called rabid. Sheri McInvale, the bill’s sponsor, said her office heard more comment on the matter than it has on any other issue.

Yet, unlike having dinner at 4:30, that disposition is not peculiar to Florida. In Des Moines, café operator Holleen Lawrence reportedly wants to open a second outlet, called Buddy and Rosie’s Bark and Brew, where dogs would be welcomed. First she has to convince Iowa regulators to permit it. So far, it’s been a no-go. But she’s still trying.

And as I reported here earlier, an Austin, Texas, restaurant tried to get around the health regs in its state by deputizing someone at the higher end of a leash. The law clearly states that security personnel are allowed to bring dogs into restaurants. Make the two-legged component of a dog-human pairing a security officer, and any health-code violations disappear. It’s Texas ingenuity at work.

Countless restaurants in other areas merely look the other way. My dogs all but know how to adjust the café umbrella for maximum shade. And, not coincidentally, they’re in those places precisely because they’re permitted, albeit with a wink and a look the other way.

And you don’t even have to buy them a kids’ meal, which is a good thing. All they do is chew the toy to bits.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your comments - but it's Mobil not Mobile - Mobile is where Admiral Farragut said "damn the torpedoes". Mobil is the oil company aquired by Exxon a few years ago.