Mayor Bob Foster and 2nd District Council Member Robert Garcia make the new policy stick. All images courtesy of Merrilee Adler
On Sept. 19, Long Beach officially and ceremoniously welcomed dogs as dining companions on restaurant patios. Instead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, city officials solemnly affixed a Dog-Friendly Patio Dining decal to the entrance door of Kress Market on Pine Avenue as approximately 10 well-behaved canines and their human companions looked on.
“Of course! Why not?” said Hilda Ortiz when asked if she was happy about the new ordinance. Ortiz and her partner enjoy dining with their own dog in the same alfresco atmosphere that they beautifully provide and are she’s looking forward to welcoming more customers who take their dogs to lunch (incidentally, they make a heck of a great sandwich, and you can enjoy one with or without a pet).
Kress Market’s patio was packed with Long Beach residents, representatives and Rovers. “If you love your pet, this is great!” said Mayor Bob Foster at the opening ceremony. “This makes Long Beach look a little like Paris.”
On July 24, the city council approved a policy implemented by the city’s health department to allow restaurant patio access to leashed dogs with the consent of the individual restaurant owner. The policy was sponsored by council members Robert Garcia, Suja Lowenthal and Gary DeLong with implementation by activists Justin Rudd and Cookie Braude. Four other counties—Marin, Santa Barbara, Monterey and, most recently, Los Angeles—had crafted their own policies to allow dogs to eat at outdoor tables only, and the Long Beach Health Department developed its own after studying the policies of the other counties and adjusting the definition of food service.
“Food service normally includes assembling ingredients, plating, portioning, pouring (drinks) and serving,” wrote Jackie Hampton, the Bureau of Environmental Health food program supervisor. “In many cases, the food service on an outdoor patio involves only the handling of a plate of food. "Hampton said that this action doesn’t comprise all the elements of food service and therefore isn’t prohibited under the Health and Safety Code.
Of course, there are regulations, and Hampton was there to discuss them, accompanied by Tom Modica, the city’s director of government affairs; Michael Johnson, support services manager; and Nelson Kerr, Environmental Health’s bureau manager.
The policy is 100 percent voluntary for restaurant owners, and restaurants who choose to participate must post a sign to let clients know that their pet is welcome. Signs are available online, and Hampton noted that the health department is augmenting their clever welcome signs with stickers, a sample of which is posted on Kress’s door. There are strict rules: You must bring your dog through the patio from the outside and leash him or her to the chair, out of the path of patrons and servers. This not only prevents tripping hazards but also tail stomping. If your dog plans to dine with you, bring the personal dish, even if he or she eats off your own at home. Clean up after your dog, and of course, make sure that he or she is well behaved, even if that rule doesn’t seem to extend to children. A full list of regulations, handouts and the signs are available here.
“Animals are extensions and parts of our families,” said Robert Garcia, whose little Pom, Anakin, accompanied his partner, Gus Maldonado, to lunch. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Health Department. This is a sensible policy and spurs business on.”
Garcia, Maldonado and Anakin
Before the doggie-dining policy was passed, there were a good number of people and restaurateurs who had no idea that it wasn’t legal to bring their pets to outdoor patios. Now, there’s language in place that spells out guidelines, and every responsible pet owner is no doubt content. Except, possibly, Mayor Foster.
“I’m a little upset that you don’t get to bring the cats,” said Foster, whose cat, Noah, receives unrestrained devotion from the mayor and his wife, Nancy. “I’m starting a movement to allow this. Cats rule.”
Come on-a my house, my house-a come on
Come on-a my house, my house-a come on
Come on-a my house, my house, I´m gonna give-a you
Figs and dates and grapes and cakes, eh!
~”Come On-a My House,” Ross Bagdasarian, William Saroyan
Judy Crumpton and Chloe chat with LBTV reporter
Crumpton and Chloe with photog Merrilee Adler and Rudy Vallee
Mary Matthienson, Liz Reyes, and fellow lady lunchers
"Yes, we have a reservation!"
Remember to hydrate
Great pickup opportunities, too!
How about bringing a new friend to lunch? One whom you can dine with as comfortably on a friendly restaurant patio as you can at home? Button, a 5-year-old female black-and-white Chihuahua,is all ears for your decision. You can pick her up at Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St. in Long Beach. Ask for ID# A475188.
Click here to view our policies covering Robert Garcia and the Long Beach city council.