A dog bar and coffee shop may be coming to Lawrence; plans would let you watch and interact with dogs up for adoption
photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo
I’ve had my day go to the dogs. I’ve dogged an assignment or two. And even though I’m a few decades past grade school, I think I’ve recently used the excuse that my dog ate my homework. But I’m pretty sure I’ve never said I’m going to go have a beer with the dogs. That may change as plans have been filed for a Lawrence dog bar and cafe.
Anthony Barnett, owner of Home Sweet Home Dog Resort, has filed plans with Lawrence City Hall to open a 1,000-square-foot coffee shop/cocktail bar inside his business’ newly opened west Lawrence location at 1837 Wakarusa Drive.
Its planned name: Hair of the Dog.
But, don’t get the wrong idea about the place. It won’t be the hair of your dog. Barnett wants to make sure people understand this isn’t the type of place where you bring your dog to the bar. Instead, it is the type of place where you have a coffee, a cocktail, or maybe a treat of some other kind while you watch dogs play and frolic, and at times even get out there to join them.
And if you really hit it off — and you are sure it is not just the double latte talking — you can adopt the dog on site.
Barnett said he’s planning to partner with the Lawrence Humane Society to have five to six adoptable dogs at the site at all times. For health code reasons, the business will have an indoor eating area with a big window overlooking the indoor-outdoor area where the dogs will be. Once you are done eating, though, you’ll be able to enter the indoor-outdoor area and have fun with the canines.
“I’m not aware of anything else exactly like it,” Barnett said of the concept, which he developed with his wife, Katie Barnett, who also is an attorney specializing in animal law. (If I had talent, this is where I would insert a joke about a lawyer and a dog walk into a bar.)
Barnett said there are some cat bars, which he said has proven to be a good way to get animals in need of adoption in front of the general public. He hopes that is an end result with this venture too. In fact, he said the idea basically is his way of trying to find a way to have the Lawrence Humane Society located at his west Lawrence location, which he envisions as a Lawrence Pet Campus.
Back in late 2018, I wrote about Barnett’s plans for a Lawrence Pet Campus. The plans involved his Home Sweet Home Pet Resort and fellow Lawrence-based pet grooming business Pawsh Wash moving into a new 8,000-square-foot building along Wakarusa Drive. In December, Home Sweet Home Pet Resort opened in the new building, and Amber Nickel, co-owner of Pawsh Wash, told me she hopes to move her business into the space by January.
Originally, the Barnetts’ idea included the Lawrence Humane Society having a satellite location at the west Lawrence office. As that idea became harder to implement, he came up with the dog bar and cafe as a way to keep the nonprofit agency in the mix.
“I basically started looking for a way to create a business to keep them involved,” Barnett said. “I’m thinking I’ll sell some coffee and cocktails to pay for them to be involved. I’m hoping it works that way.”
I put a few calls into the Humane Society on Tuesday afternoon to get a few details from its standpoint, but they are swamped there and I never got through to its executive director.
Barnett has a few City Hall approvals to win before he can start the project. But he is optimistic he’ll win the site approvals needed to proceed and hopes to be open by the end of the fall season.
He also has a few details to shore up when it comes to food and drink. He said he’s close to finalizing a partnership with another local business to provide a limited food menu, and he’s planning a drink menu that will include the standard coffee shop items, plus a bar menu that will focus on an early-evening, after-work happy hour type of crowd. Don’t look for the business to do late-night college bar scene type activities.
As for the idea of Lawrence Pet Campus, Barnett feels like he is getting closer to that aspiration. His approved site plan with Lawrence City Hall does show another building on vacant property west of the current building. That would house Barnett’s nonprofit Symbiotic Behavioral Treatment Center. Barnett has previously told me that organization takes dogs that have experienced some sort of trauma and are in need of therapy and teams them up with people who could benefit from a therapy dog.
Barnett said he still plans to build that center on the west Lawrence site but currently is focused on getting phase one of the pet campus established. Opening a business for boarding pets during the middle of a pandemic was difficult, he said. Most of Home Sweet Home’s business involves people either needing to board their pet while on vacation or leave their pet at daycare while they are at work. The pandemic greatly cut into both activities.
“The pandemic is probably the scariest time I’ve ever had as a business owner,” said Barnett, who continues to own a Home Sweet Home location in eastern Lawrence too.
But if you are looking for a sign on whether area residents are starting to return to normal, the man who watches their dogs said he’s seeing plenty of signs that they are.
“We have gone from no traveling to now we are getting full,” Barnett said. “People are actually starting to plan trips. I’m taking bookings for Christmas. I have gone from existential dread to now making sure we can keep up with all the business.”