There are about a couple dozen cat cafes around the country now, so it may be a surprise there haven’t been any for man’s best friend—until now. And The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles, which opened in April, is filling the void with more than just coffee and puppy snuggles.
While coffee is always a draw, the mission of The Dog Cafe is more about providing a home for the animals. All the dogs come from shelters, and the goal is to find them a home or otherwise be the permanent hospice for older canines. Dog Cafe owner Sarah Wolfgang, after adopting dogs herself, felt a need to bring awareness to forgotten shelter dogs. She believes the opening of the cafe “is a movement to revolutionize the way people view rescue dogs and dog adoption in general. Often, dogs at shelters tend to be scared, or in ‘shelter shock,’ and we wanted to be able to show people that, put into the right environment where they could show their true personalities, even dogs thought to be unadoptable can be amazing family pets.”
Wolfgang chose a site just a stone’s throw from the heart of hip Silver Lake “after frequent trips to the Silver Lake Dog Park with my dog, Sharkie”—the cafe’s mascot.
The cafe is divided into two sections for health-code reasons: one is the dogs’ play zone while the other has the cafe, where you can check in (entrance fee is $10 per person for an hour, and reservations are recommended), shop for merch, and order your drinks. Choices include your classic espresso drinks and pour-over, along with flavored lemonades and a variety of teas from Teatulia. The two roasters supplying beans may not come as a surprise: Dogs Drink Coffee and Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. Both donate a portion of their proceeds to dog rescues.
Here though, the coffee takes a back seat—the real fun is on the other side of the wall. “After months of going back and forth with the health department,” Wolfgang says, “we settled on keeping the two locations—coffee shop and dog lounge—completely separate, but adjacent. This allows us to make and serve beverages in an animal-free space, which customers can then take next door to hang out with the dogs.” There’s plenty of seating around the stone floor where the dogs roam, or you can sit right on the floor (the staff manages to keep the place spotless and non-stinky). Tables contain info on the dogs available for adoption, with about 15 or so dogs ready for cuddles at any given time. Since some dogs may be exhausted after their human interaction, they are rotated through the space in groups, with some resting behind closed doors.
On my visit, The Dog Cafe was fully booked—19 people are allowed in for each hour-long slot—and everyone seemed to be enjoying their time interacting with the pups. Visitors are encouraged to pet and pick up the dogs—like most rescues, they range from shy to full-on affectionate—and really get a feel for each animal; basically, The Dog Cafe is a great place to visit if you’re thinking about getting a dog.
The cafe’s walls have photos of the adoptable dogs, plus information on dog breeds (a good thing for potential adopters to research, as different breeds suit different lifestyles). “From the group of dogs we originally started with, most have been adopted to great homes by people who came by as customers, which is fantastic considering these dogs were viewed as unadoptable at their shelters.” Here at The Dog Cafe, things just seem a little brighter for everyone.