Long Beach restaurants may now welcome dogs to outdoor patios thanks to a decision from the Long Beach City Council last Tuesday. The Council voted 7-0 to approve a new policy that gives restaurant owners the discretion to allow dogs to join their owners for a bite to eat in their outdoor dining areas. (Councilmembers Dee Andrews and Patrick O’Donnell were absent from Tuesday’s meeting).
According to documentation from the City’s Department of Health and Human Services, both police dogs and service dogs are already allowed inside restaurants. This new policy, created by the department and approved by the Council, now allows other canines to dine with their owners if a restaurant chooses to have a dog-friendly patio. They’ll just have to stay in the outdoor dining areas, and the servers will have to follow specific standards to make sure that the area stays clean.
Vice Mayor Robert Garcia stressed that this is an optional policy for restaurant owners, explaining that a restaurant can remain dog-free if the owners choose.
“This is really about providing choices for business owners,” Garcia said Tuesday.
Councilmember Suja Lowenthal said that her office has been contacted by dog owners who advocated for a policy to allow dogs on the outdoor patios that would be consistent with the City’s efforts over the last five years to become friendly towards pets. She also stressed that the new policy is completely voluntary.
“However, I am hoping that businesses see this as an opportunity to expand their customer base and marketing opportunities to the community,” Lowenthal said. “And I’ll be looking for those ‘dog-friendly patio’ signs at the various restaurants I pass daily while walking my dog.”
An informational bulletin outlining the health department’s new policy will be provided to restaurants. If restaurants choose to participate in the program, they must post signs at their entrance that states they do have a dog-friendly patio and that dogs may only access the outdoor patio. According to the policy requirements, no food preparation beyond refilling a beverage glass will be allowed on dog-friendly patios, and the tables can’t be pre-set with multi-use dishware and utensils. Restaurant employees will be required to keep the area free of dog hair and waste. Dogs must eat only from disposable containers and will not be allowed to eat from restaurant dishware. The City will also create a handout for dog owners, advising that dogs be on a leash tied to a chair and owners clean up after their pet, asking servers for additional clean-up help, if necessary.
In answer to a question posed by 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, City Attorney Robert Shannon said the City of Long Beach would not face any general liability issues in case anything happens in the restaurants with the dogs. Schipske joked that cat owners will soon be filing a class-action suit to allow felines to dine in restaurant patios.
The City’s decision to allow dogs to dine with owners outdoors is really a no-brainer for George Captanis, who owns Bixby Knolls restaurant, Georgie’s Place. Captanis describes his food as “American Greek” and acknowledges his restaurant already has an outdoor patio. He and his wife own two poodles and expressed no concerns that dogs would cause any problems at his restaurant.
“Most of the dogs behave better than most of the people,” Captanis said in a telephone interview Tuesday, explaining that if dog owners know their pet could misbehave or bite, they wouldn’t be taking it to a restaurant. “They all behave,” Captanis concluded. “And they’re all pretty awesome.”