While the state’s health code rarely allows pets inside a restaurant unless they are service animals, many establishments have designated outdoor areas friendly to terriers and retrievers alike.
In some cases, dog-friendliness is woven into the cultural fabric of a place largely because its owners are dog-lovers themselves.
At Bre’s Ice Creamery in East Hampstead, owner Deb Rogers-Thornton brings her dogs with her everywhere and they often accompany her at the ice cream shop, which she opened in 2013.
“They are a very important part of my life and we’re together almost always,” Rogers-Thornton said. “I have been home with Casey ever since she was a puppy, so I didn’t think it was fair to all of a sudden start a business and leave her home.”
Casey is her chocolate lab. Rogers-Thornton created a menu item for dogs named after Casey called Casey’s Canine Cup, which is a cup of vanilla soft-serve ice cream with kibbles and a dog bone.
Another item, for humans, called the Diva’s Dog Dish Challenge (10 scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, nuts and cherries) is named after her black lab, Diva.
People love to bring their dogs to the shop, Rogers-Thornton said, and customers often ask to see her dogs.
“I think I have some customers who come more for the dogs than the ice cream. But our ice cream’s really good too,” she said.
One of the pioneers of dog menus in the state is Tom Boucher, owner and CEO of T-Bones. The Bedford location has long had a dog menu with items for dogs to enjoy at the outdoor terrace area that’s open in the spring, summer and fall.
Boucher said he first came up with the idea when he saw a pet menu at a place while traveling through Washington, D.C., with his wife.
“We just thought it was a great idea,” Boucher said.
The restaurant makes its own doggie treats in the form of biscuits in the shape of a big T. Each dog gets a free bowl of water, and the food items are named after the dogs of the owners and employees.
Perhaps one of the more popular menu items, Moe’s Bowl, a bowl of ground beef, whole-grain rotini, cheese and bacon, is named after Boucher’s bulldog Moe, who died last November.
Other menu items include Zoe’s Tasty Tips and Boo’s Bacon Wrap Bites. There is also a vanilla ice cream dessert with dog biscuit sprinkles.
Boucher said he’s going to be changing the dog menu, dubbed Tails on the Terrace, later this year, though he’s not yet sure what the changes will entail.
“I’ll leave that up to my dog chefs,” Boucher said.