Tara Downs first had the idea for a restaurant where pet owners could dine with their pups when she saw a man walk up to a bar in Italy with his hefty pit bull.
Two years later, Downs' concept is becoming a reality. Her restaurant Pub Dog Colorado, scheduled to open in April 2017, will be the only restaurant in the state where dog owners can legally eat indoors with their dogs.
"I love taking my dog places with me," said Downs, owner of an English springer spaniel/German shorthaired pointer mix named Cooper, who she rescued from the Humane Society in 2007. "I have wanted to own a restaurant for as long as I can remember."
Crews broke ground on the barn-style building earlier this month at 2207 Bott Ave., less than a mile from Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Bear Creek Dog Park. The restaurant also will have a 1,300-square-foot patio and 3,000- square-foot off-leash area lined with canine grass, a type of artificial turf specifically designed for dogs, said Scott Downs, Tara's father and director of marketing for Pub Dog Colorado.
The Downs family spent months working with the local, state and federal health departments to finalize plans for the facility that are in compliance with code. The restaurant will be split into two sides: one half a regular, full-service restaurant where dogs are prohibited and the second half a self-serve eatery for pet owners and their furry friends.
"A little more than half of the building is just like any other restaurant. You can't go in there with your dog," said Scott Downs, who has worked in the construction industry for more than 30 years. "That's by our design. There's people that may not want to hang out with dogs, so we've got a restaurant that works for them, too."
The Pub Dog Colorado menu, which features pizza and deli sandwiches and a few specialty items, such as a grilled cheese made with brie, raspberry jam and chocolate. The dishes were designed by Tara Downs, who has worked as a manager at Mackenzie's Chop House for the past decade.
A variety of local craft brews will be available on tap. For canine customers, gourmet dog treats and a non-alcoholic, broth-based snack called Bowser Beer will be available for purchase.