Heavy Petting: Dogs' night out

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Happy hour has gone to the dogs. In a good way.

There are more than 72 million dogs in the U.S., and their owners are always looking for ways to spend more time with them. Thanks to patio seating at local bars, dogs and humans can enjoy drinks, dinner and the company of other animal lovers under the stars.

Summer is the perfect time to try one of the many canines-and-cocktails spots in Columbus - and the bars listed here offer water and treats for dogs along with special pricing on food and drinks for humans.

Every Tuesday, Gresso's in German Village opens its patio to pooches, and Bar 23 in the Short North welcomes pets every Sunday. The Lodge Bar in the Arena District follows suit one Friday a month, and Mellow Mushroom in Polaris hosts dog diners on the last Sunday of the month.

Why the proliferation of dog-friendly events?

"People approached me looking for a place to bring their dogs," said Bar 23's Brent Duncan, who partners with Three Dog Bakery owner Susan Oilar for the events. Bar 23 offers the $2 Muttini and a separate dog menu, courtesy of Oilar.

"We have a good-sized patio," Duncan said, "and it's great for people-watching."

Gresso's owner Eric Gresak used to bring his dog, Gresso, to work with him. The big dog's presence on the patio created so much interest from passersby that Pups on the Patio was born in 2007.

"We have a lot of regulars who come here," Gresak said. "They stop in with their dogs and hang out. They say that Tuesday is their new weekend."

Gresso's also hosts OSU and Halloween costume parties for dogs.

Mellow Mushroom in Polaris is new to the scene. The pizza joint's owner Colby Zachrich offers live music, concert ticket raffles and a chance to win a spa weekend for your pooch from the Animal Hospital of Polaris. A veterinarian is on hand to answer pet questions, too.

These patio parties serve another purpose - the bars donate proceeds to local shelters and rescues. Gresso's partners with the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Friends of the Shelter, Lodge Bar with Ohio Pug Rescue and Mellow Mushroom with the Humane Society of Delaware County. Dogs looking for homes also enjoy their nights out on patios.

The tag line on Gresso's pup T-shirt sums up the pooches on the patio experience perfectly: "Where tail-wagging memories are made."