Bark Social, a coffee bar and beer garden that welcomes humans and dogs, plans to open in Pike & Rose in late October.
The membership-based dog park and lounge will offer food and drinks for customers and their canines. In the morning, it will serve coffee and encourage patrons to work on their laptops.
The evening “Yappy Hour” will offer beer and stream sports games.
Co-founders Luke Silverman and Jeff Kurtzman secured a liquor license last week. On Monday, the business received its final building permits.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the dog bar’s projected opening date by about a month due to delays with permitting and construction. But because Bark Social has a largely outdoor business model — with a 25,000-square-foot dog park and a 2,500 square foot covered patio — the venue fits well with social distancing measures, Silverman said.
“I think this is going to be a great way to kind of reintegrate everybody into a social environment,” he said.
He hopes to foster a “modern-day Cheers,” a spiffed-up version of the spot where everybody knows your name. The dog bar’s website outlines the vision for the club’s future as a place for both work and socializing.
“We don’t like choosing between going to the dog park and going out with friends for happy hour,” the club’s website states. “Also, we don’t like leaving our dogs at home while we work on our laptops at a coffee shop.”
In both the bar’s atmosphere and business choices, Silverman aims to emphasize community. He and Kurtzman will use their newly acquired alcohol license to serve 20 local beers on tap, highlighting beer from breweries in Montgomery County and the D.C. area.
“You’re not going to be able to come to Bark Social and take a Bud Light to-go,” Silverman said. But he added customers can purchase the locally made beer they try.
Bark Social plans to hire 35 to 40 people for full-time and part-time positions. Some employees will serve as “Bark Rangers” and monitor the club’s dog park.
The owners have launched a philanthropic initiative ahead of Bark Social’s opening. They are selling a Give Back T-shirt, and will donate about one quarter of the shirt’s price to local charities.
The cofounders had some apprehension over how people would react to the novel business idea. While there are other dog bars around the country, Bark Social is the first in the area, its website states.
“The response from the local community has been resoundingly positive and an endorsement that people are excited for a unique concept like this to launch [its] brand in Bethesda,” Silverman said. “I also think it talks to just the amount of dog lovers in the community.”
When Bark Social opens, Silverman and Kurtzman plan to bring their own dogs to test out the space.
“The CEO is actually my dog,” Silverman said of his rescue pup. “Frankie runs my life.”