Dining with Dogs

In Hospitality, Legislation, Real Estate by Richard Bianco

It is now legal for restaurant owners to allow patrons to bring pets into the outdoor seating areas provided certain conditions are met. Personally, I had no idea that allowing dogs in outdoor seating areas of restaurants was illegal. I have seen this, for years, all over the city, and frankly, thought nothing of it. I have never come across or even heard of an establishment receiving a violation for allowing dogs in outdoor areas. Apparently, during the summer months, the Department of Heath, cracked down on such conduct, issuing a slew of enforcement notices to restaurants with outdoor seating.

In response, on October 23, the Council enacted emergency legislation to allow restaurant owners to permit patrons to dine with dogs in outdoor seating.

The Dining with Dogs Emergency Act of 2017 provides that the owner of an eating establishment may allow dogs in outdoor seating areas and unenclosed sidewalk cafes so long as the areas are marked with appropriate signage; there is an entrance to the outdoor seating area that is not connected to the indoor portion of the establishment; patrons with dogs are provided waste bags; food employees may not handle or care for dogs; patrons are required to keep dogs leashed or in carriers; and patrons are prohibited from leaving dogs unattended.

(***UPDATE*** The Council approved the permanent version of this legislation on January 9, 2018)

Owners and operators that choose to permit dogs may restrict the types of dogs permitted based on size and temperament and retain the discretion to require removal of a particular dog.

Restaurant owners and managers in need of compliant legal notices for their outdoor seating areas should call us to request.