I recently heard about a place in Seattle where you could eat inside with your dog – the KISS Café in Ballard. We decided to go there and check it out since it was son the way to the park.
When we got there, I was a little surprised at how small the place was. I knew another group who had planned to go there and they were much, much bigger. I couldn’t find any pictures of the inside of the place on their website but, in my head, I imagined a Denny’s sized diner. When we got there it was more the size of a Starbucks…and a small one at that.
To make room for the 8 of us, the café pushed a few small tables together. Our big table took up about a third of the seating in the place. There were a few other seats along a bar and about 5 small, 2-person tables along the front wall.
The place was clean and modern. The top half of the front wall was actually a window so most of the place was bright and cheery. Our table was tucked back into a little raised nook so it felt a little darker and dingier (although it was very clean) in comparison though. (That is why my photos are grainy)
Between us there were 11 Doxies. Anyone who has been around a group of Doxies (or really, dogs in general) knows that normally well-behaved dogs can feed off of each other and get barky. I admit I was a tad nervous about all of us going into the restaurant.
The dogs were somewhat tired from the 3-mile walk around the lake. We hardly heard a peep out of them in the first half hour we were there.
Then we learned the place serves espresso.
When espresso is made, the barista knocks the tightly-packed grounds into a disposal container. The key word here is “knock”.
The espresso guy knocked the grounds thingy against the container and the dogs thought someone was knocking. A few of the dogs started to bark. He made some not-totally-distinguishable-gesture our way but it looked like (or at least felt like) “the hand” as if to signal the dogs to shush.
We got the dogs back under control in about a minute but there were several people in line to get espresso. The guy continued to knock, knock, knock and by some miracle the dogs didn’t keep reacting and barking.
We settled back into eating and the dogs were calm again. Then one of the dogs jumped into her Mom’s lap. It was obvious that the next dog over (who was also in her Mom’s lap) was totally startled. She literally jumped and went rigid. She started to bark. She barked about 5 or 6 times pretty loudly before her Mom could calm her down.
The espresso guy rushed over to our table and said, “We love dogs but we can’t have that here. You will have to leave. No one wants to hear that.”
Things felt really awkward after that. It felt like they were sending us telepathic signals…leave, leave, leave, we can’t wait until you leave! We finished our food, paid and left. I was the last to leave and heard the espresso guy mutter something to the waitress to the effect of. “Whatever, I was just telling it like it is.”
On one hand I totally understand where the espresso guy was coming from but on the other hand I think it is a little ridiculous to allow dogs into your place and not expect some barks now and then. Even the most well-behaved dogs may bark if they are startled, feel threatened by another dog or hear a really loud noise. They clearly have a zero tolerance policy for that. Also, he could have been a little less rabid about the whole thing.
Besides the dog thing, the prices were average, the food was bland (I had what I thought was going to be a savory taco scramble), street parking is plentiful, it is right next to a spa if you want to get a massage before hand, they have a couple of flat screen TVs and you can get your beer AND espresso fix at the same place.
The bottom line is this: can you bring your dog inside to eat with you? Yes. Do I consider this place dog-friendly? No.
Would we go back? Maybe. It’s one of the only gigs in town where you can get a real meal inside with your dog (that I know of anyway). When I want to dine inside with Chester and Gretel this is one of my only choices.
I probably won’t go with anyone anymore though because I don’t want to be responsible for what their dog does. Even if it is just us with Chester and Gretel, I would still be paranoid the whole time that they would bark and we would get kicked out. Also, even though it is probably not true, I feel like the espresso guy would recognize me and be shooting me hate eyes the whole time.
So maybe the answer is no. Would I go somewhere else if I had more options? Definitely.