Written by 19:12 Business

Can Dogs Go Into NYC Restaurants?

On a quiet weekday evening inside a restaurant in Brooklyn, a dog under a table announced its presence with a single pronounced yap. At a scoop shop in downtown Manhattan, a large white poodle was spoon-fed what appeared to be vanilla ice cream. In the dining room of a chic Midtown restaurant, a teacup Pomeranian strutted across the floor.

When it comes to dogs in restaurants, two things can be true at once: first, according to the New York City health code, “no live animal shall be kept, housed or permitted to enter into or remain in any food service establishment,” with a few exceptions, including service animals and city-approved dog cafes like Boris & Horton.

Second: the dog nibbling a French fry at the next table.

There are 617,000 licensed dogs in New York City, and the vast majority, presumably, eat in. But while no city agency tracks how many dogs are regulars at the city’s restaurants, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number is far from zero. Whether this is a scourge or a delight depends on whom you ask — and tensions between the two camps can run high.

“Nowadays, it’s very common to see dogs in restaurants,” said Beth Torin, a restaurant-safety consultant who until 2020 was executive director of the Office of Food Safety in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “Nobody goes anywhere without their dogs.”

Often, the pets make an understated entrance. “A lot of times, you won’t even see the dog” until you seat the owners, said Ally Gallegos, a former maître d’ at an upscale neighborhood restaurant in the West Village. “And you’re like, ‘Oh, God.’”

What happens next is straightforward, at least in theory. The Americans With Disabilities Act allows the staff to ask just two questions: Is the dog a service animal, required because of the owner’s disability? And what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? This should mean that service dogs get in with no problems, and other pets are gently redirected outside. (Pets are allowed on outdoor patios at the restaurant’s discretion.)

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Last modified: 18 May 2024
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