What’s better than spending your quarantine hanging out with your dog at home? Easy: hanging out with your dog at the bar. One of the silver linings of 2020 is new dog bars opening in the DMV dedicated to bringing you and your pooch out on the town.
Brewski’s Barkhaus, located in Alexandria, claims to be the first dog bar to open in the region. Alex Benbassat and Justin LeGore, co-founders of Barkhaus, originally met when they were roommates at Virginia Tech. The pair ended up staying together after college when they both had opportunities in Charlotte, North Carolina. Benbassat and LeGore loved to take the former’s dog, Rex, to the local dog park and bar to unwind after a long day of work and get to know people in their new city.
“We were in a new city where we didn’t really know people and taking our dog to the dog bar was the easiest way to just to meet people,” Benbassat says. “That’s something that we just loved to do.”
When the pair found themselves back in the metro area, they were surprised to find that there were no dog bars in the area they could visit. Benbassat was especially crushed as he was missing his own pup.
“I couldn’t bring Rex to Alexandria because it was too expensive, and I was still doing my studies,” Benbassat recalls. “One thing I didn’t like about that was, there wasn’t really anything or anywhere to go where I could go and hang out with other people’s dogs.”
Benbassat and LeGore saw this hole in the local market and took the opportunity to create their own dog bar. After much research, planning and adjusting due to Covid, Barkhaus was finally ready to open. Opening weekend took place on October 17-18 and went off without a hitch. Customers were masked, dogs were friendly and the drinks were flowing. With plenty of indoor and outdoor space available, customers are easily 6 feet apart at all times during their visit. And those who are continuing to work remotely are invited to use Barkhaus as their office away from home.
“We provide free Wi-Fi for anyone that wants to come here work from Barkhaus and have their dog run around in the play area while they’re working,” Benbassat states. “Both the human and their dog can have a break from being home.”
Moving into the colder months, Barkhaus will continue to be a safe place to visit. The bar has already acquired multiple heat lamps for the outdoor spaces and will set up canopies as well to protect from the weather.
By December, another dog bar will be joining the scene in the District. Bark Social, founded by Luke Silverman and Jeff Kurtzman, is a private off-leash dog park with an indoor and outdoor bar and café set to open mid-December at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda. Bark Social boasts about an acre of outdoor space, as well as a covered patio and indoor seating options. Grab a seat next to one of the heaters, order an Irish coffee and enjoy a beautiful winter day as you watch your pup pal run around to its heart’s content. Bark Social is sure to become one of the best spots to safely escape quarantine once it opens, and Silverman can’t wait to welcome his two and four-legged guests alike.
“We’re excited to be able to get back together with people in a safe way,” Silverman says. “It’s a great opportunity to get people back outside in a Covid world.”
Because of its unique setup, Bark Social has not had to pivot much as it’s meant to be enjoyed almost entirely outside – no matter the season. CDC guidelines will of course be followed by the dog park and bar, but customers can breathe easier knowing there is so much dedicated outdoor space for them and their pooches.
“It’s a great place to feel safe, and hopefully you’ll want to come back after Covid.”
Members of Bark Social can enjoy unlimited access to the park, online store, private events and more. Dogs are expected to be up to date on all of their shots to stop the spread of disease, and “Bark Rangers” will be monitoring play time to make sure everyone gets along. You can play with your dog as much as you want, but if you want to take a break with your friends you don’t have to worry about leashing your dogs while you enjoy a selection of local beer or coffee at the bar as the Bark Rangers will watch your pets.
In addition to just being a fun place to bring your pooch, Bark Social is dedicated to uplifting other local businesses. About 50 percent of their beer on tap is from Montgomery County, and another 40 percent is regional. Before even opening their doors, Bark Social has donated over $600 to local dog rescue societies from the sales of their Give Back T-shirt. Silverman and his team hope to partner with local animal welfare nonprofits for fundraising and adoption events almost every weekend after they open.
“We’re dedicated to being hyperlocal, and we believe our customers care about where their products come from and want to help the local economy,” Silverman states. “For us, it’s really important to maintain a healthy micro business economy.”
So whether you’re itching to socialize for the first time in months, or you just want a fun and safe space to visit once in a while, consider bringing your dog along to these great new bars.
Bark Social: Guests without dogs are not required to purchase a membership and are free to visit anytime. Dogs must be up to date on all shots in order to visit. Monthly memberships cost $39.99 per month and yearly memberships are $365. Members can bring non-member guests with dogs if they purchase a guest pass for $9.99. Learn more about at www.barksocial.com, or call them at 240-253-6060 with any questions. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter @bark_social and on Facebook @barksocialbar. Open daily 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. 935 Prose St. North Bethesda, MD.
Brewski’s Barhaus: Guests without dogs are not required to purchase a membership and are free to visit anytime. Dogs must be up to date on all shots in order to visit. Daily passes for pets are $10, monthly memberships are $30 per month and yearly memberships are $250 annually. Learn more at www.brewskisbarkhaus.com. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter @barkhaus_ or on Facebook. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. 529 East Howell Ave. Alexandria, VA.
Other Dog-Friendly Places around D.C.
Baked & Wired
Baked & Wired bakes dog treats in flavors like Peanut Butter Krunch in addition to their fresh bread, pastries, muffins and cookies. Currently, the spot is carryout and delivery-only, but their outdoor seating is dog-friendly. Open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. 1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, DC; www.bakedandwired.com
Lost Dog Café
The Lost Dog Café is a dog-friendly spot with great food and beer. The owners of this local chain started rescuing dogs when the café was still in its infancy and now work to home strays in the region. Multiple locations and hours. www.lostdogcafe.com
Wet Dog Tavern
This pet-friendly beer garden was founded in honor of the owner’s dog Lilly. Attend events hosted by Wet Dog that support the Humane Rescue Alliance and other animal welfare nonprofits. Open Wednesdays and Thursdays 4-10 p.m., Fridays 4-11 p.m., Saturdays 2-11 p.m. and Sundays 2-9 p.m. 2100 Vermont Ave. NW, DC; www.wetdogdc.com
NoMa’s German biergarten offers year-round outdoor seating with seasonal fire pits to warm you on extra blustery winter nights. In addition to board games, cornhole and live entertainment, your dog is also welcome at Wunder Garten. Just take a peek at their Instagram to spy all the cute pups who know where to go for a good time. Open Monday to Wednesday, 4-11 p.m., Thursday 4 p.m. – 12 a.m., Friday 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Sunday 12-11 p.m. 1101 First St. NE, DC; www.wundergartendc.com
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