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Dogs on deck: 2 eateries just off Whyte Avenue open their patios to dogs

Amber Wyers, right, with her puppy Harley, a three-month-old Border Collie Lab cross, relax on the Ranchman's Cookhouse patio in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, June 18, 2016.
Amber Wyers, right, with her puppy Harley, a three-month-old Border Collie Lab cross, relax on the Ranchman's Cookhouse patio in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, June 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Patio lovers who own dogs can rejoice now that a few Edmonton restaurants have received permits allowing dogs on their decks.

El Cortez — located on 8230 Gateway Blvd. — and Have Mercy on 8232 Gateway Blvd. — have been granted permits by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that let customers bring their pups along for a drink or a bite.

Michael Maxxis, co-founder of both businesses, said the decision to try for a permit was made after seeing dogs at numerous restaurants in areas of the United States.

“I just loved the vibe of it,” he said, “so it’s something I wanted to bring back to Edmonton. And I worked very, very hard with Alberta Health to make it happen.”

The process of receiving a permit required the writing of new procedures for their businesses, which were sent back and forth between them and AHS with notes for changes and rewrites.

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The new rules stipulate that dogs are not allowed inside the restaurants, service staff are not allowed to touch them, hosts and bussers are on duty to deal with doody and new types of sanitation materials have been introduced to pick up after them.

READ MORE: Dog-friendly patio options vary across Canada

Maxxis’ businesses may be the first in the city to have gained the permits, but a statement from AHS indicates there may soon be others.

“In the last month, AHS’ Environmental Public Health department in Edmonton Zone received a large number of requests for approval for live animals on outdoor patios at food establishments,” the statement reads.

Although Maxxis said almost all customers haven’t had problems with the dogs since they were allowed on patios last Wednesday, a few complaints have been made.

“We had one crazy customer call in and swear at the hostess and say, ‘I can’t believe you let those filthy animals into your restaurant. I’m never coming there again.'”

This slight pushback is on par with previous attempts by the restaurants to try something new.

“Any time we have done anything interesting or bold in any sense, we get the couple of people that just have to complain about it,” Maxxis said.

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Both eateries are just a few blocks away from the Cat Café that opened last summer, meaning there are spots around Whyte Avenue where either dog or cat lovers can enjoy a bit of furry companionship.

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