At this café, dogs and humans have their day

Discussion
Photo: Boris & Horton
Mar 02, 2018
Tom Ryan

Inspired by the cat café phenomenon, although operating much differently, the first dog café has opened in lower Manhattan.

With cat cafés, visitors pet and play with local rescue cats that are up for adoption. At Boris & Horton, the dogs — except for the owners’ (Boris & Horton) — are brought in by guests.

As in a cat café, the dogs are kept in a separate room from where the food is made and served, to meet health code requirements. Guests buy their coffee, beer, wine and snacks in the food-prep space. They can then walk through a vestibule connection to the dog side or stay in the café for a dog-less experience.

Coppy Holzman, who founded Boris & Horton with his daughter, Logan Mikhly, told RetailWire the idea addresses the frustrations the two faced visiting coffee shops and needing one of them to stand outside while the other went inside to order.

“We wanted to solve this problem and create the perfect coffee shop — great coffee, wonderful food and the best wine and beer in the evenings, all with dogs,” said Mr. Holzman, who was the founder of the online celebrity-based charity auction house, Charitybuzz, and a co-founder of Webvan. “We are very comfortable and neighborhood friendly, whether you have a dog or not.”

The space will regularly hold adoption events, has a dog-friendly photo booth, and sells a wide range of Boris & Horton-themed merchandise, from hats, mugs and bags to dog snacks. Customers can also order from an online store.

The upscale vegetarian menu focuses on local suppliers, including City of Saints coffee, Murray’s Cheese and Balthazar Bakery, while also offering local craft beer and wine by the glass.

To keep the peace, Boris & Horton has a number of “house rules.” Dogs must remain on leash, and aggressive dogs, stray kids and long-lasting chews are banned. Cement floors help with clean-ups, and air purifiers with smells. Staff has been trained to read dog behavior to anticipate any issues.

Boris & Horton is actively looking at other corner locations throughout New York City, with plans to reach Los Angeles next.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the appeal and feasibility of the Boris & Horton dog café concept? Do dog cafés appear to have as much expansion potential as cat cafés?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"On a personal level, Boris & Horton sounds like a dream come true. I will definitely be planning a visit."
"The dog café has great potential, as do all community of interest concepts."
"This will be a MECCA for dog people. I’m just happy to say, “I knew you when … “"

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "At this café, dogs and humans have their day"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Amster
BrainTrust

There is a cover for every pot. Some pet owners will think this is the cat’s meow (pardon the pun), but I don’t think this concept has a lot of runway.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

People love their pets. And this is a perfect combination of catering to dog-lovers WITH their dogs. This concept, while not completely new, is somewhat novel. It’s like a playground for dogs instead of kids — and then there is food, coffee and wine to add to the fun. It can become a neighborhood gathering place for friends to meet — and a place to meet new friends.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

The dog café has great potential, as do all community of interest concepts. I’ll watch for more online presence from this café offering food, advice, toys, dog-friendly outings and gatherings and so much more.

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust
Meaghan Brophy
Senior Retail Writer
1 year 10 months ago

I’m not sure how this works with different health codes, but on a personal level, Boris & Horton sounds like a dream come true. I will definitely be planning a visit.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

Just based on the emotional connection people have with their pets, I would give this concept a good chance of success. Other pet-related businesses, such as 3-Dog Bakery, are tying in the emotional pull of owning a dog with the more traditional “human” formats (like cafés and bakeries) — and succeeding at it.

Max Goldberg
Guest

People love their pets — many treat them like children — so opening a dog cafe would seem to be a logical proposition. Boris & Horton have taken precautions to keep food preparation safe and to mitigate pet smells. I expect the dog café idea to expand to other cities.

Sky Rota
BrainTrust
1 year 10 months ago

I never heard of cat cafés, but I can tell you opening a dog café is a home run! I just recently found that our Philadelphia International Airport is dog-friendly with green spaces for dogs and flights are filled with dogs. Dogs and cats are not just animals they are members of our family. The more places we can bring them the better. In San Francisco you see dogs in every store shopping with their families. We personally look for places where we can bring my little dog. If not my mom actually bought a dog stroller so we don’t have to leave her home. Yes, I push the stroller and people love seeing our dog, They make life happier.

Ed Dunn
Guest
1 year 10 months ago

Starbucks has allowed dogs on their patio for years and many customers use the Starbucks mobile order while on the patio to be notified and quickly pick up their order. Cat cafés are usually designed around cats’ natural ability to stay at a distance or disappear and show up when they seek interaction.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
1 year 10 months ago

Within a neighborhood, this seems to be a great idea. I’m skeptical about it scaling. And I probably would seek my coffee elsewhere.

In Portland, OR we have problems that some coffee shops are allowing dogs already — without the health restrictions. And it can be a pain. While I have loved all the dogs I’ve had, dogs don’t mix as well with other dogs as owners might envision.

Then again, guess I’m getting a bit old school where dogs are dogs and people are people. 🙂

Rick Moss
Staff

I was about to weigh in with similar sentiments, Doug. Here in Brooklyn, between dogs and baby strollers, it’s hard to navigate to your cafe table. (I know — #firstworldproblems) I would love to see dog owners syphoned off to a place of their own — no offense.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

In so many places this is already a reality — especially at outdoor walking areas that have become so popular. There is hardly a time one can walk past a Starbucks or outdoor eating café without seeing owners with their pets, especially dogs. I am all for it. In fact, we do take our dog on walks in these areas occasionally. It is a nice stroll in the park, so to speak.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

This will be a MECCA for dog people. I’m just happy to say, “I knew you when … “

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I like this. It takes the lifestyle aspects of shoppers and targets them directly. Simple and effective.

George Anderson
Staff

I can see the appeal of this type of cafe in pedestrian-friendly cities and towns, but I agree that many people don’t often understand when they should leave their four-legged family members at home. I love my Border Terrier, but she doesn’t always play well with others, so having her go with me to a cafe is not something I would consider for a second.

On a related note, I’ve been a bit startled on my three most recent trips to the local Target to find multiple people shopping with small dogs in their arms or in a carrier inside the carts. Each time has been while I was shopping in the store’s grocery area. Personally, I wish those customers had left their dogs at home.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

I’m sure this will resonate with dog owners in local urban neighborhoods, although I don’t see this spreading outward from that. Pet owners love their pets, so I’m sure many will go out of there way to frequent a place like this with their pet! This is an example of “See a need, fill a need” and the owners of Boris & Horton have done just that!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"On a personal level, Boris & Horton sounds like a dream come true. I will definitely be planning a visit."
"The dog café has great potential, as do all community of interest concepts."
"This will be a MECCA for dog people. I’m just happy to say, “I knew you when … “"

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely are dog café concepts such as Boris & Horton to gain traction across the U.S.?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...