The Dog House: A Bar for Dogs and People

A new bar concept is making dogs and owners want to sit and stay.

Pardon the pun, but a new Mid-City bar has really gone to the dogs, and in the best business way. The Dog House officially debuted in February, the creation of dog-loving business partners Samantha Chodyla and Kelly Robinson. The bar offers a place for dogs and their owners to connect, imbibe and relax in a safe, self-contained space.

Their official motto? “We love spending time with our dogs. We also love going out. We believe you shouldn’t have to choose between the two.”

While there are plenty of dog-friendly cafés, bars and taverns in New Orleans, Chodyla and Robinson were inspired to bring something new and different to the city that would be more inclusive of pet needs while also entertaining their human companions in a new way.

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“I would frequent a similar concept in Dallas and knew since we had nothing like that here,” said Robinson. “I wanted to be the first to bring it to New Orleans. I knew it would be a hit.”

The Dog House includes a canine play area made up of soft, durable and mud-proof AstroTurf that is completely fenced in, highlighted by brightly painted murals and a glass wall that provides a modern, open indoor/outdoor feel throughout. Special pet-friendly events are held each week, such as holiday parties, light-hearted competitions (such as the recent Mutt [March] Madness), live music and trivia nights, plus adoption and local animal shelter fundraising events.

“While Sam takes care of the operational side of things, I am super passionate about partnering with local shelters and creating a safe place for the pups,” Robinson said.

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Unlike a traditional bar that happens to be dog friendly, The Dog House follows a membership model, which Chodyla and Robinson said ensures the safety of all patrons. All dog owners must fill out a brief online application, which includes veterinarian and vaccination information, and pay a small fee of $5 for a day pass, $10 for a month pass or $100 for a year pass.

Located in Mid-City in a lot that neighbors Take Paws Rescue, The Dog House, features an enclosed area for dogs to play, along with a specially-crafted cocktail and mocktail menu. Monthly events offer unique opportunities for patrons and pups to get together.

“The fee really isn’t about a profit, but rather instilled to help us make sure the right protocols are in place and patrons and puppers have a safe place to interact,” Robinson said.

While canines play, patrons can enjoy a seasonal cocktail menu. A recent version included a rummy “Scooby Snack Punch,” a “Wishbone Martini,” and a zero-proof “Slinky Dog” (with the option to make it a boozy cocktail), plus a selection of light bites.

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“It’s better than anything we could have come up with ourselves,” said Robinson of the menu. “We are lucky to have Tony Burgeson as our head chef and Carly Lacoste as our lead bartender. They are so creative and really put a lot of thought into the menus.”
Early reception to The Dog House has been encouraging.

“The response and overwhelming amount of support have been insane,” said Robinson. “We always knew it was a good idea and the fact that our patrons reaffirm that on a daily basis makes a huge difference.”

The pair, who originally connected at Tulane University, bring their own experience in business and working in the hospitality industry to their new venture.

“We actually met while getting our MBAs together at Tulane,” said Chodyla. “Before starting my own company, Silver Linings Consultancy, and getting The Dog House up and running, I was lucky enough to work under Neal Bodenheimer and learn from him and the rest of the Cure family for about two years. But this was Kelly’s original idea, and I am just grateful to be along for the ride.”

Robinson said that while scouting for a location with a Realtor, they discovered a plot of land in Mid-City that turned out to have an extra feature.

“When our Realtor spotted the location, we didn’t even realize that Take Paws [Rescue] was next door,” she said. “But after arriving on-site, it confirmed it was the perfect location. And we just love Mid-City. Thankfully…the incredible team at Studio West Design & Architecture made our vision come to life.”

The Dog House 2736 Banks St. // @thedoghouse.nola

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