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'Bring Your Own Dog' Restaurant May Open in Brooklyn Near Prospect Park

By Rachel Holliday Smith | December 15, 2016 2:48pm | Updated on December 16, 2016 7:12pm
 A sketch of the proposed
A sketch of the proposed "BYOD" (bring your own dog) restaurant in Brooklyn.
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Courtesy Verena Erhart

Is it barking mad or doggone genius?

Two dog-loving New Yorkers are gearing up to bring their dream of a truly dog-friendly restaurant to Brooklyn in the new year.

The name? BYOD. That’s “bring-your-own-dog.”

Verena Erhart and Lauren Hanlon are raising $35,000 through Kickstarter to open the new restaurant in Prospect Heights or Crown Heights, they said, to cater to dog owners looking for a place to hang out around Prospect Park.

“We’re both dog owners and we feel that people feel bad leaving their dogs at home, [and] even more when they go out and have fun,” Erhart said. “So, we’re trying to combine things … going out to eat and have drinks and having your dog with you.”

Verena Erhart, left, and Lauren Hanlon, right, are raising money to open a dog-friendly restaurant in Brooklyn. (Courtesy of BYOD)

The two are already looking at spaces for the restaurant, but need approval from the Department of Health to proceed with the idea. Though it is now legal to have dogs in outdoor seating areas, animals still aren’t allowed inside bars (by law, anyway) or restaurants.

But Erhart and Hanlon plan to “work around” the health regulations by creating two totally separate spaces for pooches and food prep, similar to the set-up at cat cafes Meow Parlour and Koneko on the Lower East Side.

“In principle, it’s very similar … where you go and pick up your coffee and your snack in one location, and then go play with the cats in the other,” Erhart said.

For now, the woman's plan sounds feasible, according to the health department. When asked about the legality of BYOD, the agency told DNAinfo New York that as long as the restaurant has a separate space for the dogs apart from the food service area, the eatery would be legal.

Plus, Erhart said, customers will be duly warned at the door about what they’re getting into.

“[We] will have a little sign up that says ‘By entering here, you agree that there might be some dog hair while you’re eating your food’ because it’s kind of unavoidable,” she said.

For its human patrons, BYOD will serve seasonal, “vegetable-forward” food (both business partners are vegetarians) and beer and wine; for dogs, the restaurant will have water and treats a-plenty. They also are looking a location with outdoor space to create a “mini dog run” at BYOD, to go above and beyond what’s offered at Brooklyn’s current dog-friendly spots.

“We feel that most of these places expect the dog, but they’re not necessarily dog-friendly. We will really be a place where the dogs are welcome,” Erhart said.

As of Thursday, BYOD had about $2,000 pledged in its online fundraiser. The Kickstarter campaign ends January 6.