One of San Francisco’s newest tasting menus is also its most exclusive. On Sundays only, the popular Dogue patisserie and store serves a seven-course meal featuring high end, chef-prepared small plates. The organic beef chuck steak comes raw and adorned with pretty spirals of fermented carrot and a dusting of dehydrated beet powder. For dessert, pastel cake balls and rose-shaped tarts are made with ingredients like antelope heart and ground bone. The restaurant’s main point of difference: Instead of humans, the diners in question are dogs.
“Honestly, I don’t know who gets more enjoyment, the dogs eating or me watching them eat,” says Rahmi Massarweh, the chef-owner of Dogue, which opened late September this year. The “Bone Appétit” (yes, really) tasting menu costs $75 per floofer, so of course it’s spawned a slew of hot takes on wealth inequality, capitalism, and a society in peril. But Massarweh, a dog lover and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, just wants to see our four-legged friends thrive. “If you knew that your choices directly impacted how long a member of your family would live, wouldn’t you want to make the best choice for them?”
Over the past century, Americans’ approach to feeding dogs has undergone a major shift. In the 1910s, a household pup would be lucky to get a dollop of canned horse meat—which was made from worn out old workhorses sent to the slaughterhouse. But today, the humanification of pet food has snowballed into fancy subscriptions and specialized diets. There’s also a proliferation of animal-friendly bars, ice cream parlors, and restaurants like Dogue that serve doughnuts, froyo, and beer made for dogs.
The beloved dog ice cream franchise Salty Paws, which first launched in Delaware four years ago, will soon have 22 locations nationwide. Even big chains like Shake Shack and Starbucks have dog snacks for people who simply won’t treat themselves to a venti caramel frappuccino without treating their best friend too. The Google search term “dog restaurants near me” has been rising steadily since 2014, and our current dog food boom has contributed to a pet food industry worth $50 billion dollars in 2021. Pet owners are now spending more than double what they did in 2010 on their favorite furballs.
“We decided to invest in the belief that pooch lovers would jump at the chance to eat, drink, and socialize in an establishment geared for pups and people alike,” says Jamie Hardaway, who opened her bar Hops & Hounds in San Antonio in May 2020. She was right: About 1,600 people—usually flanked by at least one dog each—come by every week for birthday and adoption parties, theme nights, or to hang in the off-leash play areas shaded by oak trees.
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