Hot dog! Finally, a place to enjoy coffee or a meal with man’s best friend!
By Julie Gedeon
Photography by Chantale Lecours
No, the Hot Dog Café isn’t going to the dogs, but canines and their owners have certainly been showing up at the eatery/grooming/kennel centre since it opened in Brossard, Que., two years ago.
Owner Mirko Bonneville wanted to create an establishment that he could enjoy with his beloved chihuahua. “I always felt guilty about leaving PaperBoy at home when I went out with friends,” he says.
So he set out to offer a great experience for humans and canines alike. Leashed dogs can accompany their owners in the lounge. “It’s surprisingly calm,” Bonneville says. “Happy to be near their owners, most dogs end up dozing off.”
For those with energy, there’s a British-inspired interior dog park. “Instead of having all of the customers rushing for a window seat to keep an eye on their pet, we’ve set up monitors,” Bonneville says. “Before a dog is allowed into the park, our employees ask the owner key questions about the dog’s sociability.”
No one needs to worry about having a dog’s breakfast. Chef Éric Richard brings years of experience from the renowned Manoir Rouville-Campbell. The menu at the Hot Dog Café ranges from Viennese pastries for breakfast to salmon or beef tartar for lunch or supper, along with an array of finger food.
The human-designated servers all don white jackets and cater strictly to people. “As much as they adore dogs, they won’t pet any because we don’t want fur in the food,” says Bonneville. “The black-jacketed employees provide the dogs with a bowl of water and – with the owner’s permission – a biscuit or two.”
Dog and cat owners can drop by with or without an appointment to have their pets groomed while they relax in the London-inspired lounge.
Barking up the right tree:
Research first. Bonneville searched extensively to determine whether his vision already existed.
Be name savvy. A marketing firm suggested Hot Dog Café because it’s a simple, bilingual name that’s readily identifiable if he decides to expand or franchise.
Deal with doubt. When family and friends questioned his concept, Bonneville hired a polling firm to ensure there would be demand for a café/grooming/kennel centre.
Know the rules. Bonneville was fortunate to have two animal lovers at the province’s agricultural board to help guide him through the law governing the presence of animals within eateries.
Hire experts. Bonneville doesn’t even drink coffee, but has a barista who knows quality beans. The same kind of expertise leads his kitchen, grooming and kennel facilities, and website presence.
Create events. Every holiday is an occasion at the Hot Dog Café, whether it’s a dress-up at Halloween or romantic dinners on St. Valentine’s. Other nights feature experts on dog training or nutrition. Customers have also sparked the idea of having a Breed of the Month with a dedicated soirée for those dogs and their owners to gather.
Build community. The Hot Dog Café’s Facebook page has 7,200+ Likes.