BRADENTON — Bonni Bakes hasn’t yet gone to the dogs, but it will be soon.
In October, the popular Village of the Arts eatery, run by Bonni Brown, plans to offer doggie dining, which allows patrons to bring their pooch with them for lunch.
Brown said patrons are barking up praise about the idea. An opening date is set for Oct. 2, during Village of the Arts’ ArtWalk.
“It would be fun for people to come and bring their dogs,” she said. “I’ve always made dog cookies and things like that in the past.”
Her business is the first to receive a doggie dining permit from the City of Bradenton. All businesses offering outside dining for dogs in Bradenton or elsewhere in Manatee County must have a permit, paying a one-time fee of $100.
At Bonni Bakes, dogs will enjoy affordable items on “Muffin’s Menu,” featuring speciality homemade snacks with “people-quality” ingredients chosen by Brown’s dog Muffin, who is part bearded collie. His taste is pretty exquisite, Brown said.
“So far I’ve been cooking and testing,” she said about the menu.
Experiments include beef stew, chicken cheddar croquettes and wontons, served in small and large portions. There will also be cookies and packaged treats.
Once dog service begins, Muffin’s Menu will be offered Fridays and Saturdays.
Besides the screened-in patio, Brown has permission from the city to serve dogs in Bonni Bakes’ front garden and the back garden during parties and other events.
Other regulations state that dogs must be on a leash at all times and be well-behaved; they cannot be indoors or sit on people’s laps; they must wear a license or rabies tag and owners must have their pet’s certificates immediately available upon request. Also, hand sanitizers must be on every table. Employees cannot touch or handle the dog while serving food and signs must be posted of the rules, too.
Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature amended the state’s pilot doggie dining program, known as the Dixie Cup Clary Local Control Act. The amendment makes the program permanent, according to the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation.
A Florida pets Web site, www.floridapets.net, lists other Florida hot spots where doggie dining has been approved. They include Sarasota County, St. Petersburg and Tampa. St. Petersburg was the first Florida city to apply for a doggie dining permit.
In Sarasota, 15 eateries have grabbed permits allowing dogs to feast with their owners, said Jutta Tolbert of Sarasota County’s Office of Environmental Health. They include Cha Cha Coconuts in St. Armands, both Old Salty Dog restaurants and Mattison’s City Grille on Lemon Avenue.
As for doggie dining in Bradenton, Brown has a feeling her venture will be a successful one. All the profits raised from “Muffins Menu” will benefit a different dog rescue group each month. She also wants to highlight dog adoptions during the ArtWalk.
“So many animals are being given up because of the economic situation,” Brown said. “It’s just another way to reach out.”
January Holmes, features writer, can be reached at 745-7057.