First Look: Take your Pooch Out for a Drink at Bark Bar in Downtown

If you have not paid attention, the south side of Downtown is going through a huge renaissance lately with restuarants, shops, and a number of unique-to-the-city things to do. We have been waiting a bit on one of the most interesting to take shape however, finally the dog-focus Bark Bar is set to open on August 1.

Bark Bar is sort of a mecca for any dog loving adult. It is one part dog park, one part bar and restaurant, and a perfect example of how the Quapaw area of downtown has grown recently. Due to liability purposes, it is 21 and over only membership bar that features an indoor and outdoor dog area.

“I got the idea visiting Austin and came across an outdoor dog park that featured food trucks setup around the park,” co-owner Cara Fowler tells us. “I called up a few friends to see if they would be interested in doing something like this in Little Rock with me. Before you knew it the idea for Bark Bar was formed.”

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The building is beautifully redone, retaining parts of the original turn of the century mission-style church architecture, but revamped for a open and airy feel that works well. On the wall are the dogs of the people who helped donate and make the place a reality.

There is an upstairs area that is small dog only, in case your dog is intimidated by large dogs. Downstairs there are pub height tables, a large garage door that opens to the outside, and the restaurant/and bar area.

On the outside is a more typical dog park with several areas to roam and play. They have sprinklers going and water set out all around for the dogs to stay cool. Currently they have a couple of shade areas, but more are coming in soon that will be installed.

“Getting approval for something like this was very challenging,”co-owner Elizabeth Michael says. “There has not been anything like this before in the city, so we entered new territory. The health department worked strongly with us to make sure the food was prepared in a safe environment.”

They also take dog safety very seriously. All dogs must be pre-registered to enter, including up to date shot records. Once inside  you go through double gates to enter to keep anyone from letting the dogs out. They have “Bark Rangers” on staff to ensure a safe environment for both dogs and humans. They also feature a strong set of house rules to keep everyone safe.

“The environment is centered around the dogs, and the dogs come first here. We focused heavily on keeping the dogs safe while at the Bark Bar,” Michael says.” Humans are responsible for their animals while they are here, so clean up after your dog. We will do our work to keep everyone, canine and human, safe and having fun while here.”

There is obviously the bar (and restaurant) part of Bark Bar. On it you can find a decent selection of local craft beers, a dog themed cocktails as well as coffee and non-alcoholic drinks. They have a wide assortment of different hot dogs (naturally) for people to enjoy along with hummus and cheese dip.

They also feature some unique items for your furry companion. The dog beer is perhaps the most interesting. It is a meat-broth based drink for the dogs. Right now they have pork flavored, but beef and chicken will come soon. They also do dog hot dogs and carrots. The crowd pleaser however was the Spaniel Sunday that starts with a base of peanut butter and is topped with whipped cream and a dog biscuit. Every dog in the place went crazy when they brought a few out for everyone to try.

Bark Bar again is membership driven, but based on the dog not the human. A day pass is $5, a month is $20, and an annual pass is $150. There are discounts for additional dogs in the household as well.

The official open date is August 1 and they will stay open from 10am-10pm at 1201 South Spring Street in Little Rock. Come check them out.

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  • Douglas McDowall

    Will you be checking ID’s based on dog years?

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First Look: Take your Pooch Out for a Drink at Bark Bar in Downtown