It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, I was going to complain about the upcoming onslaught of pumpkin beers but I'm too
upset to even thing about it now. As you know I live in the East Village of New York City with
my dog, Homer. Not only has the City been a great beer town it has also been animal friendly
but no more. Before you say anything, of course I know it has always been a violation of the
city’s health code to allow a dog anywhere near a beer tap but for years, this has been one of
the most widely — and well deserved to be violated rules.
Every day after leaving the BeerNexus offices I go home to my apartment and take Homer for a
walk. Well, it just so happens that at the end of the walk is Tom's East Side Grill , a great beer
joint. So we stop in for a beer of two. That's beer for me, Homer doesn't drink. Now we can't
do that anymore. Government has cracked down.
According to the Tom's Grill's manager, Karl Biaez, the city's health department has adopted a
letter grade system for bars and restaurants meaning that health inspectors are allowing no
wiggle room for four-legged patrons. It's to the letter, strict enforcement. We're seeing the
end of the grand tradition of dog-friendly bars in New York. I don't blame Tom's Grill, they've
already received a violation notice after health inspectors twice saw dogs on the premises this
I called up the health department and was told they issued over 400 violations for live animals
in food-service sites from in the last six months though they didn't give me breakdown of the
different kinds of offending animals.
These bureaucrats are really anti-animal, especially dogs. Can you believe the new
regulations say that dogs are not allowed even in outdoor seating areas? It doesn't even
make a difference even if the bar does not serve any actual food of any kind. Beer, wine and
spirits have always been classified as food,I was told. Only service dogs are permitted in
spaces that serve food or drink of any kind.
“Everybody keeps asking when we can have dogs again,” Karl Biaez told me, "sadly I can't give
them an answer."
Try telling that to my poor Homer who every time we pass by Tom's Grill turns towards the door
and tries to pull me in.
Oh well. Time to take Homer out for a walk.
So, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Gina, as you know NYC has a long history of dog-friendly establishments that predates most of
its bars. In the 19th century, saloons often housed dogs as security. Since Prohibition, some of
the city’s oldest institutions have counted animals among their regulars.
Some of the most famous bars in the City, and the world for that matter, were animal friendly.
The now closed Chumley’s, which was once a speakeasy, openly welcomed dogs. McSorley’s
Old Ale House rarely hosted dogs, but did keep a cat on the grounds from when it opened about
150 years ago until earlier this month, when the health department stepped in. Even
P.J. Clarke’s in Midtown, has gladly welcomed dogs for nearly a half-century. Until now,that is.
I did some checking (and drinking) at a few bars near you and discovered a small number that
continue (very discreetly) to allow dogs, Good for them! Obviously I can't write their names
down here but will send them to you privately. As you see Gina, I'm on your side on this issue.
Look, even if the dog howls a bit it's less bothersome to me then the irritating wail of a crying
baby. Every time I've see a dog and his person in a bar they seem to fit in nicely with the
environment. To me, responsible pet owners should be allowed to bring their dog to an
Think about how many times you were in a bar and wished management would throw out a
human. Bet you never said that about a dog!
Keeping animals out of the food preparation area might be fair, but what conceivable difference
does it make who is sitting at a table eating dinner? I know many people who own dogs and give
them free rein in their house, including the kitchen. I've never heard of any of them getting sick
because the dog was around.
Let's be realistic Gina, we're talking about bars, not a surgical suites. And besides were not
there for vitamin laced organic fruit smoothies, we're there for the really healthy stuff - like booze,
greasy fried foods, and, to be polite, semi-clean restrooms. Just what more harm can any non-
human do this "healthy" atmosphere?
Here's a toast to you and Homer! See you next month.