Top-ranking dog-friendly restaurants, breweries in Asheville

ASHEVILLE – Restaurants and bars expect an increase in customers in the warmer season months that include two- and four-legged guests.

In the Asheville area, there are places designed with dogs in mind first with many other human-centric establishments taking extra measures to enhance the guest experience for those with and without fur.

The COVID-19 pandemic motivated more restaurants to open their patios and make accommodations for dogs and their owners, said Jessica Chipriano, lead category manager at BringFido, a pet travel resource and lifestyle brand website and app founded in 2006.

“So many more have created outdoor seating if they didn’t have it before and new places that are opening are making sure they have some kind of outdoor seating,” she said. “Usually, for the majority, they allow the dogs because it’s outside and, of course, dogs aren’t allowed inside because of the health regulations of the food being prepared in there.”

BringFido is a website and app that assists dog owners with finding dog-friendly accommodations.

BringFido provides information about dog-friendly restaurants, events, hotels and emergency and nonemergency services convenient for travelers.

“We help people traveling with their dogs find accommodations as well as pet-friendly places and activities to bring them,” Chipriano said.

BringFido reported 166 pet-friendly restaurants listed in Asheville. Also, there has been an increasing trend of dog-park style bars across the US, particularly in recent years, Chipriano said.

Last year: Answer Man: Dogs allowed at outdoor restaurants?

In Weaverville, Wagbar offers a 25,000-square-foot outdoor space for dogs to run off-leash and play with other guests at 320 Merrimon Ave., just outside of Asheville. The membership-based business requires dogs to have updated vaccination records and good behavior.

“It’s really become a destination,” said Kajur Kulp, Wagbar co-founder. “We have members from 48 states who’ve joined Wagbar who’ve been traveling or have second homes.”

The facility also offers snacks and beer, wine and a nonalcoholic beverage bar for dog owners. But it’s the upbeat environment, service and safety guidelines that members said to be the most attractive features, he said. Wagbar also is a draw because it allows the dogs to relax and run free.

Wagbar is planning to offer franchise opportunities nationwide later this year because the demand has been so high, Kulp said.

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