The idea for a dog park bar came to Todd Goldfarb when he and his wife Mara were having beers at The Independent in Seminole Heights.
The couple had brought their dog Frida, who began pulling at her leash and barking in an attempt to befriend another canine.
“You have to have them on a leash at The Independent
,” Goldfarb says. “My wife, who is crazy about dogs … said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you had a dog park where you could have a beer?’”
Goldfarb liked the idea and found an empty lot he thought would be ideal at Nebraska Avenue and Genesee Street, about three blocks north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He contacted members of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association
. They liked the idea.
However, the proposal faced a more-skeptical reception when Goldfarb met with Tampa city officials. For one thing, his vision is to house the bar in an 8-foot-by-40-foot shipping container.
Container bars are a trendy new craze internationally, but Ferg’s Live, near the Amalie Arena, is the only bar in Tampa that uses them now, Goldfarb says.
And then there’s the idea of combining a dog park and bar, an establishment with no precedent in Tampa. The concept doesn’t fit with an overlay district plan adopted many years ago for Seminole Heights, Goldfarb says.
“Beyond the containers, we have additional zoning challenges,” Goldfarb says. “The overlay zoning is well-intended but they didn’t have dog park bars in mind. We don’t fit; we’re not a conventional business. We’re going to need variances.”
Even though the lot is 30,000 square feet, Goldfarb says he’s not going to need as many parking spaces as city codes prescribe for that size property. He envisions people stopping by after work for a beer they can drink while their dog plays. The shipping container will hold a bathroom and four locally brewed beers on tap. People will stand outside or sit on picnic tables. The bar won’t carry food or liquor, but he hopes to have some food trucks park at the site.
“People are not going to camp out and watch live music because there is no live music and they’re not going to watch the game because there is no TV,” he says. “The whole point of a dog park is you want your dog to run around.”
Despite the challenges related to zoning and parking, Goldfarb says city officials have been very helpful. But to be successful, he’s going to need a bunch of neighborhood folks to show up at an October 13 City Council meeting.
“That’s our day when the city gets to know us,” he says. “We’re hoping people from the neighborhood who have dogs and love dogs will show up at this hearing.”