In 2006, local governments began issuing permits to make official something restaurants have been doing for years: allowing dogs on the patio. St. Petersburg and Tampa were among the cities to offer the "doggie dining" permits, and although few eateries bothered applying for the free paperwork, dining al fresco with your dog is a long-standing tradition at many Tampa Bay area restaurants. As long as they're well behaved, no one — including the government — makes a big stink about it.
Perhaps the best-known example of canine friendliness is at Hyde Park Village in South Tampa. The shopping and dining district has an unwritten rule that dogs are welcome on most restaurant patios and even in most stores. Many even leave out water bowls and treats. But according to Tampa officials, none of the Hyde Park businesses carries a doggie dining permit.
"There's nothing written. It's just kind of been grandfathered in," said Susan Martin, general manager of the shopping and dining district. "It seems like people know that the retailers and the merchants here are very dog-friendly." In the three years Martin has worked at Hyde Park, she said she's never heard anyone challenge the district's liberal dog policy.
But some businesses have decided dogs and people shouldn't mix in public. Among the restaurants that once allowed dogs but no longer do are New World Brewery in Ybor City and Moon Under Water in St. Petersburg.
"The reason we stopped doing it is because we had multiple complaints to the city," said Moon Under Water manager Katie Fawkes. The restaurant, which had welcomed dogs since it opened 14 years ago, was one of the few that actually applied for the doggie dining permit when it became available. But then the patio became "inundated with dogs," Fawkes said. Most did fine, but some were poorly behaved and some owners let their dogs off leashes. The situation became too unpredictable and more trouble for the restaurant than it was worth. "It wasn't about the dogs. Sometimes it's just more about the people who weren't taking care of their dogs," Fawkes said.
So if you're thinking of venturing to a yappy hour (that's a happy hour where dogs are welcome) or another canine-friendly establishment, first take care to get your dog some obedience classes and up-to-date shots. Then make sure he stays on a leash and away from the beer, and have a doggone good time.
C'MON, GET YAPPY: Hit the social scene with your dog at one of these ongoing dog-friendly happy hours.
Cappuccino's Altro Posto Cafe
733 Broadway St., Dunedin, (727) 738-8009; cappuccinosbakerycafe.com When: Second Sunday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. Cover: Free Specials: House wines $4 per glass; $1 off beers; organic beer tasting. This Sunday there will be a superhero costume contest for dogs. The winner gets a bottle of Yard Dog wine for his owner.
Clearwater Wine Co.
483 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, (727) 446-8805; clearwaterwinecompany.com When: Last Saturday of every month from 5 to 11 p.m. Cover: Free Specials: Food and drink specials change monthly.
1805 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-5900; gasparsgrotto.com When: First Saturday of every month from 3 to 6 p.m. Cover: Free Specials: Drink specials change monthly.
14303 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 269-1500; pawsforfriendshipinc.org When: Third Tuesday of every month from 4 to 8 p.m. Cover: Free. Donations go to Paws for Friendship, a nonprofit that arranges for animals to visit people in need. Specials: $5 select appetizers; most drinks half price
Happy Paws & Tails
6128 Winthrop Town Centre, Riverview, (813) 661-5138, happypawsandtails.net. Yappy hour is held in the courtyard between Happy Paws & Tails and Green Iguana. When: Last Wednesday of every month from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cover: Free; donations accepted to benefit animal rescue groups Specials: Two-for-one beer, wine and well drinks from Green Iguana; discounted doggie merchandise; raffles with prizes from local businesses.
MacDinton's Irish Pub & Restaurant
405 S Howard Ave., Tampa, (813) 251-8999; macdintons.com When: First Sunday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. Cover: Free Specials: $2 off all food and drinks; dog beer available for purchase; water provided
Pawsitively Posh Pooch & Classy Cats Too
1425 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 892-9303; pawsitivelyposhpooch.com When: Every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Cover: Free. Donations benefit various animal groups. Specials: Complimentary wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres; free dog treats; 25 percent off doggie tuxes, gowns and other formalwear
2815 E Fowler Ave., Tampa, (813) 977-5025 When: Third Thursday of every month from 6 to 10 p.m. Cover: All donations and tips go to PAWS of Hillsborough County, a rescue and sterilization charity. Specials: Two-for-one margaritas, draft beer and wine; free treats and Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs
The Nature of Art Gallery & Adventures in Bradyville
1100 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 821-6700; natureofart.com, adventuresinbradyville.com When: Second Thursday of every month from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Cover: Free. All donations and proceeds benefit a different rescue group each month. Specials: Free refreshments, pizza, wine, beer and dog treats; silent auction and raffle for pet services and artwork.
DOGGIE DELIGHTS: Don't miss these miscellaneous perks for dogs and their owners.
Chick-fil-A Many franchises keep dog treats at the drive-through window, should you be passing through with your four-legged friend. For locations, see chick-fil-a.com.
Dunedin Brewery Bring your dog to the bar for Suds on Sunday. The first Sunday of every month between noon and 5 p.m. (hours subject to change during the summer), let the folks from Dunedin Dog Rescue give him a bath. Depending on the size of your pup, the wash will cost $7 to $15. You'll also get a ticket for a free pint of beer. 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, (727) 736-0606; dunedindogs.com.
Bruster's Real Ice Cream Bring your dog to the patio of any Bruster's, and he'll get a free "dog sundae" — a scoop of vanilla ice cream (the people kind) with a dog bone. Tampa Bay area locations: 20303 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, (813) 907-7458; 2318 Seven Springs Blvd., New Port Richey, (727) 859-4515; 2707 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, (352) 622-2110; brusters.com
Hyde Park Village Most of the shops allow dogs inside, even providing water and treats. Many restaurant patios are also dog-friendly. 1509 W Swann Ave., Tampa, (813) 251-3500. And take advantage of this special offer from Downtown Dogs: The boutique offers 15 percent off everything in the store and a free gourmet dog treat during the Hyde Park live music series. It's the last Wednesday of every month through October from 6 to 9 p.m. at the circle in Hyde Park Village, Tampa. Downtown Dogs is at 1631 W Snow Ave., (813) 250-3647; shopdowntowndogs.com. Free.
Starbucks A lot of Starbucks allow dogs on the patio, but what if you're by yourself? You can't exactly bring Fido to the counter with you to fetch that mocha. Saturdays and Sundays at the Riverview store, provided they have enough staff, if you find someone to watch your dog while you order, then your friendly barista will bring your drink to you outside when it's ready. 6042 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., Riverview, (813) 654-2570; starbucks.com.
More doggie dining
Not every place rolls out the red carpet for your pooch, but he's still welcome on the patio or at sidewalk tables. Here's a sampling of establishments where dogs are always allowed outside.
Acropolis Green Taverna 1833 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 242-4545; 14947 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, (813) 971-1787; 6108 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., (813) 654-2255, Riverview; acropolistaverna.com
The Brass Tap The Shops at Wiregrass, 2000 Piazza Ave., Wesley Chapel, (813) 991-4343; brasstapbeerbar.com
Cafe Volo 400 N Tampa St., Tampa, (813) 374-8900; cafevolo.com
Catch Twenty-Three 10103 Montague St., Tampa, (813) 920-0045; catchtwentythree.com
Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, (813) 463-1999; fiveguys.com
Green Iguana 6264 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., Riverview, (813) 643-7800; and 1708 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813)248-9555; greeniguana.com
Java and Cream 225 E Davis Blvd., Davis Islands, (813) 254-8162; java-cream.com
MacDinton's Irish Pub & Restaurant 405 S Howard Ave., Tampa, (813) 251-8999; macdintons.com
Taps Wine & Beer Merchants 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, (813) 463-1968; tapswineandbeer.com
Timpano Italian Chop House Old Hyde Park Village, 1610 W Swann Ave., Tampa, (813) 254-5870; timpanochophouse.net
Cafe Alma 260 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 502-5002; cafealma.com
The Chattaway 358 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 823-1594
The Hooker Tea Company 300 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, (727) 894-4832; hookertea.com
La Maison Gourmet 481 Main St., Dunedin, (727) 736-3070; lamaisongourmet.com
O'Maddy's Bar and Grille 5405 Shore Blvd. S, Gulfport, (727) 323-8643; omaddys.com
Paciugo 300 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, (727) 209-0298; paciugo.com
Parkshore Grill 300 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-3463; parkshoregrill.com