Thursday, August 1, 2013
Review: Mutts Canine Cantina provides relaxing haven for two and four legs
Plus there are two dog parks -- one for big dogs and one for small.
DALLAS The fast-paced rhythm of a busy metropolis such as ours seems to sometimes cater less to the needs of our four-legged friends than they might appreciate. With its ever-increasing number of apartment complexes and lawn-lacking residences, Uptown stands as a test to those with canine roommates. And in a city with a dog lover living on every street and around every corner, many of the dog parks provided don’t allow an opportunity for their owners to relax alongside their trusted companion.
Enter Mutts Canine Cantina. For Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz, the plan was simple: Dog lovers themselves, the co-founders of FreeRange Concepts created an urban getaway for people to bring their dogs to run around or just hang out while their owners grab a bite to eat and a drink with their friends as you try to untangle their leash from yours. It’s always fun watching dogs interact for the first time.
“Part of the mantra of FreeRange Concepts is finding holes in the market place,” says Noonan. “One of those gaping holes in the Uptown market was a great place to take dogs. Most of the people that live in Uptown have dogs, and to have a place -- a truly dog friendly place -- just seemed like a no-brainer.”
Mutts Canine Cantina caters to its two-legged and four-legged clients. Members (membership is required for canine access to the park) are able to come as early as 7 a.m. to let their dogs out while sipping on a hot cup of coffee or after work for frozen margarita. Mutts contains two different dog parks to accommodate large and small breeds -- playing is one thing, but having a energetic lab pawing with a teacup Chihuahua might not fit the Chihuahua’s definition of a good time. Expect to see beagles and basset hounds chasing after a ball or a stick thrown by its owner. The friendly staff not only contributes a welcoming feel, but is also ready to assist your pup in any way it can. With attendants there to clean up after your dog and make sure he or she stays hydrated, it’s easy to relax on the patio or in the dog park with a locally brewed beer in one hand and a house-specialty Mutts Burger in the other. Not to mention, the communal seating makes it easy to strike up a conversation with a fellow dog lover.
“Pets are a great way to break the ice,” Noonan says. “It gets strangers talking and interacting with each other about their pets, and before you know it you’ve made a new friend.”
In fact, making friends is one of the key aspects he and his co-founders had in mind while creating Mutts. Much like Bowl and Barrel, the bowling alley/beergarden/dinner hall at The Shops at Park Lane, Noonan observes that one of the things that is most important is creating that sense of community.
“We have people using us four to six times a week. Thanks to that, we have a Cheers environment, where everyone knows your name. We like to think of Mutts as the third place people go in their lives: They go to work, home, and then go to Mutts. Creating a sense of community is what we are really passionate about and to be able to do that around your pets is fun and exciting.”
That strong sense of community that has driven Noonan's and Sepkowitz’s ideas has helped influence many of the items found on the menu.
“The main focus for us on the menu is to really showcase local venues and show the amazing local products that we have. Whether it’s specially made custard from Henry’s Ice Cream in Plano to gluten-free hamburger buns from Local Oven up in Frisco, to highlighting our local breweries that are popping up around the DFW market place,” Noonan observes. “And everything we have on tap is brewed within 10 miles of here.”
If you don’t have a pet, don’t fret. Much of the business that comes in for lunch is made up of people who don’t own dogs but happen to live or work in the area. Mutts strives to create a welcoming environment to both pet lovers and non-owners alike, and it is likely that environment that has led to a strong response since the day they opened their doors.
“We’ve been extremely happy with the success so far. In the first 13 days we had over 1,000 members sign up,” says Noonan. “It’s phenomenal, considering the fact that the weather has been 100 degrees, or raining.”
And with business booming, Noonan and Sepkowitz plan on adding more water features to the dog park – and with that success the question whether there are more Mutts in the area in the plans seems to arise. “We are focused on what we are doing here. Right now we don’t have plans,” Noonan says. “But you never know what the future holds. We are very hopeful.”
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