Giving Pets a Seat at the Table

April 2018

As pet owners celebrate National Pet Week May 6–12, they will show just how devoted they are to their animals. Upserve research reveals that a family- and dog-friendly atmosphere is important or very important to 56% of diners when they’re choosing a restaurant, and for 32%, it’s one of the top three factors in whether they revisit a restaurant.

Operators can build a group of loyal customers with pet-friendly policies. Rita’s on the River in San Antonio, Texas, allows dogs on its outdoor patios, holds weekly Yappy Hour events, offers a doggy menu and donates to nearby animal shelters.

Lazy Dog, a chain with locations in four states, lets dogs sit on patios, drink from a free water bowl and eat items off the dog menu. According to Food Newsfeed, about one-third of Lazy Dog’s patio customers place an order for their dogs.

There are guidelines to ensure cleanliness and safety when pets are involved in the eating experience. In dining areas, they usually have to be on a leash and at a distance from other animals so there’s room for servers to move around. It also helps to enforce no-petting rules for employees and make sure animals eat and drink from their own containers, rather than their owners’.

When deciding what to put on a pet menu, it’s good to have a mix of meats, vegetables and treats. Butterball’s turkey products offer high-quality protein for pets to enjoy as a stand-alone offering or in a recipe.

If permanently integrating pets with guests is not an option, there are still ways for operators to connect with animal-loving customers. Consider holding periodic events that pets could attend or supporting animal-related organizations through volunteer work and/or charitable donations.

Do you think pets have a place in foodservice? Share your opinions on Facebook or LinkedIn, and read more about what’s happening in the industry in our Resource Center.


Vieira, Carol Lin. What Keeps People Coming Back to a Restaurant? (Hint: It’s Not the Wine List), Restaurant Insider, October 2017.

Trageser, Claire. The Most Dog-friendly Restaurants in the U.S., Travel + Leisure, July 2017.

Baltazar, Amanda. Dog-Friendly Restaurants Pups and People Can Love, Food Newsfeed, April 2017.

Lancaster, Alaina. How to Train Employees for Dog-Friendly Restaurants, Restaurant Business, May 2017.

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