As more restaurants have outside seating, more allow pets. Some even cater to them.
Long Beach Island — Over the last three years, Long Beach Island has seen its outdoor dining options increase exponentially. Whether it’s a loosening of old traditional rules, our increasing desire to be outdoors or the realization that giving the public what they want will attract more visitors, the Island municipalities have been far more lenient about allowing restaurants to set up outdoor seating. And with the great weather on weekends this summer, it has been a hit.
It has also opened up a whole new aspect of dining, which is bringing pets out to eat. Visitors to LBI certainly do love their pets. They’re considered part of the family. And now, whether it’s a big group dinner out or just a casual cup of coffee in the morning, pets can join the family.
Last fall, the Mainland Kitchen and Pub on Route 72 started hosting a weekly “Yappy Hour” in the Beer Garden. With a new drink special every week, guests were invited to bring four-legged friends so they could socialize while their owners socialized. The weekly event started again in the spring and has run all summer.
One of the new options in the Long Beach Island region this season has been The Boatyard, the recently opened eatery and bar at the site of Causeway Marina on Bonnet Island. It has filled a void for boaters as a place to dock up to eat or drink. But the expansive property with transient slips, a large tent, bar and outdoor games has also become a favorite of dog owners, who can arrive by boat or car with their pets.
Then there’s Living on the Veg, the Beach Haven Gardens vegan café whose entire business model is based on the love of animals. There have been several picnic tables in front of the establishment for several years.
“We always welcome our customers to bring their pets,” said owner and chef Lauren Ramos. “We enjoy meeting them when we bring them water. We’re animal friendly in every way we can be.”
For Chris Panacek, owner of Off the Hook at Viking Village, it’s a no-brainer to cater to pets.
“People are always free to bring their dogs as long as they’re friendly to other dogs,” she said. “We have water bowls for them. We even tried making dog treats in the shape of fish, but that just became too much for us.”
She said there are occasional yippers, but all the dogs and owners have been well behaved.
“People like bringing their dogs; they treat them like a member of the family. We had one family bring their Great Dane every night that they were here on vacation. Everyone was loving having him here.”
Although the term “pets” is used, there don’t seem to be many, if any at all, other species besides dogs. And up to this point, there have not been any issues. The Long Beach Island Health Department is responsible for upholding the state of New Jersey’s food retail codes, which, as department health officer Dan Krupinski said, are somewhat unspecific.
“It’s clear that for dining spaces inside, the only pets allowed are service animals,” he stated.
But he has seen a more liberal approach to pets in recent years that he sees as a cultural shift.
“We’re up against what the state allows, but a lot of places are allowing animals where there is outside seating, so that’s where people are able to bring their dogs. It seems to be working as long as there’s reasonable compromise.”
The Terrace Tavern allows dogs at the tables adjacent to the sidewalk.
“We have bowls. There’s never a problem except that my staff falls in love with every pooch that we get out there,” owner Toby Sweeney said, laughing.
You can bring a pup to Shore Fire Grille and Wally’s, both in Surf City, or Woody’s in Ship Bottom. The Sea Shell resort owner Jamie Boyle said the Shell allows dogs outdoors early in the season excluding Memorial Day and then starting Labor Day Monday again for the fall.
“During the summer it just gets too busy,” she explained.
According to the aggregate website BringFido.com, dogs are welcome outside at the Dockside Café, Union Market and Stewart’s Drive-In in Tuckerton. Mud City Crab House allows dogs on the patio. On the south end of LBI you can bring a pet to the Gazebo Grill and Sushi Bar, Biggy’s Beach Grill, Country Kettle Chowder, The Woohoo, Dockside Diner, Triton, Carol’s Organic Eatery, Beach Haven Fishery, and the Sand Bar at the Engleside Inn. Feel free to dine with your dog al fresco at Joey’s Pizza and Pasta and The Local in Ship Bottom, Dom’s in Brant Beach.
Most places that have outdoor seating are dog friendly, but it’s always a good idea to call first, as policies may change with the season.
— Jon Coen