This city’s coffee scene has gone to the dogs.
Black Lab Cafe has just opened on the Upper West Side, with menus of treats for both humans and their four-legged companions. It purports to be the first java joint of the canine kind.
“We just said to each other ‘If nobody else is doing it, we might as well open one up ourselves’, and Black Lab Cafe was born,” said Kris Powers, 27, who opened the cafe with his brother Nik, 30, and mother Lise Evans, 54. The family’s black labs — Daisy, 5.5, and Lola 1.5 — serve as mascots for the business.
Owners and dogs enter through a vestibule with two sets of doors — a safety measure in case any pups make a run for it. There’s then a seating area for creatures of all kinds. It connects to a second section, via another glass vestibule, where humans can order food and coffee to bring back to the table area to enjoy with their patiently awaiting pup. Per health department rules, dogs are not allowed in the food-ordering area, but owners can see their pets through a glass partition while they wait for food and drink.
Dogs can enjoy gourmet grub from the Powers’ company, Clean Bowl Club NYC, while humans get Stone Street coffee and espresso drinks. The menu will soon be expanded to include sandwiches, smoothies, chia puddings and alcoholic beverages for happy — er, yappy — hour.
A set of posted rules advises customers to “play nice,” avoid humping, clean up any accidents and call the “dog bouncer” — one of the owners — if any help is needed.
The Powers family first got involved in the doggie business when they started the Clean Bowl Club NYC in November 2020. When taking Daisy to the vet, they learned that the dry kibble they fed her everyday was highly processed and saturated with vitamin and mineral powders instead of natural or fresh ingredients.
“[It] made us feel increasingly guilty about the kibble we had fed her while she was a puppy,” said Kris. “We knew that we would not consider a similar diet for ourselves and decided we had to do better by Daisy.”
With the help of dog nutrition expert James Pendergast, they formulated dog foods made with fresh vegetables, beef, turkey and chicken. The refrigerated, ready-to-serve meals are made fresh daily and range in price from $6 for 8 ounces to $18 for 24 ounces. Customers can buy the food from the shop or have frozen batches delivered.
So far, neighborhood pets and people are loving the cafe.
Six-year-old Yorkie twins Lilo and Stitch give the cafe “two paws up,” according to owner Jacqueline City, 25, who praised the calm environment and good coffee.
Kim, who frequents the cafe with her Yorkshire terrier-Maltese mix Rocky, 3 1/2, but declined to give her last name, described it as “a great addition to the Upper West Side for dog owners.”
She added, “It’s so fun to be able to have a great cup of coffee and pastries while Rocky meets other dogs.”