Bark Social, a hangout for dogs and humans, is opening in Philadelphia

Bark Social is a social club for dogs and humans — putting together a coffee house, a sports bar-restaurant, and a retail store, all under one woof — and it’s coming to Philadelphia for its third location.

Founders Luke Silverman and Jeff Kurtzman, who have the former Manayunk Diner on Main Street near Ridge Avenue under leash, said they hope to open what they call their “block party for pups” in the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023.

Their first location opened in Bethesda, Md., in February 2021, with a Baltimore location opening earlier this month. With nearly $6 million in investment behind them, the business partners want to take a bigger bite out of the $100 billion-a-year pet industry.

Philadelphia has a growing roster of dog-friendly restaurants — some of them afterthoughts that may look a little ruff around the edges.

Bark Social takes the concept much further, serving menus for both humans and dogs and allowing dogs in a portion of the indoor space, making it a year-round operation. The Manayunk property, which shares a parking lot with a UA movie theater, will have a large outdoor play area, partly under cover, that will be staffed with so-called bark rangers.

» READ MORE: The 14 best spots for dog-friendly dining

It also will stock a line of branded merchandise and apparel for dogs and humans (that would be a re-tail store), and more puns than you can shake a stick at. Few other restaurants offer mimosa and pupmosa brunches, for example.

Entry at the Bethesda and Baltimore locations is $9.99 on weekdays, $14.99 on weekends, plus $4.99 for a second dog. Monthly and annual memberships are available.

“This is a typical founder’s story,” said Silverman, who has a pitbull-black Lab mix named Frankie.

Four years ago, he visited a dog-theme bar-restaurant in Texas and became intrigued with the concept. (Such venues as Wagbar in Asheville, NC, the Dog Bar in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Bark Bar in Little Rock have popped up in the last several years.)

Silverman looped in Kurtzman, a friend, coonhound owner, and serial entrepreneur who cofounded BetterWorldBooks, which sold used books online. “We took a traditional business school case-study approach to this,” Kurtzman said. Among their earlier investors is Arie Abecassis, a Philadelphia-area native and University of Pennsylvania graduate.

As they do at the other locations, they are seeking local partners for food, coffee, beer, and wine. Half of the beers on tap will be from Philadelphia breweries, while the other half will be from regional brewers.

They are also looking for nonprofit partners. The company runs charity events such as tap takeovers, through which it donates 10% of beer sales weekly to a specific nonprofit.


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