Northern Virginia’s first dog bar opens for business

Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — If you’ve ever wanted to bring your dog along while grabbing a drink or maybe meet a new furry friend, Brewski’s Barkhaus is the place for you. It’s the DC Metro area’s first dog bar, and it opened on October 17.

Located in what used to be a burger joint, Barkhaus brings an outdoor off-leash area as well as a counter service restaurant with drinks and made-from-scratch food.

“A lot of dog bars around the area and around the East Coast use pre-prepared food or bring in food trucks, but we wanted to bring in a fully crafted menu; chef-inspired, from-scratch recipes, and I think we’ve done a great job with that,” said co-owner and head chef Justin LeGore.

Alex Benbassat, the other co-owner, said that they started working on the restaurant two years ago. While opening during COVID may have seemed like a tough task, Benbassat said they worked with regulations, and the timing actually worked out well for them.

“It feels amazing because this was a two-year process, and just having COVID hit us and everything like that… We signed a lease to this place actually in February, so one month before COVIDhit, and that just made it pretty difficult, but we also had to get a variance anyway – those both were happening at the same exact time. That helped us in designing the space for both COVID and to be animal friendly,” said Benbassat.

In order to comply with COVID regulations and social distancing, they required reservations during their opening weekend. Benbassat said they are now open to anyone.

“Everyone who has dogs – they’re welcomed, as well as people who also don’t have dogs and would like to benefit from being around dogs because dogs provide health benefits to all of us,” he stated.

New customers are showing up – Summer Urban and Alex Lindsay visited with their two dogs for the first time almost two weeks after the bar’s opening. They said they decided to go because of how close they live to Barkhaus.

“Even if it was a drive, it would be worth it because where else can you just let your dogs run around and like have a drink or get some food?” Urban asked.

Lindsay added on with a laugh, “Perfect situation: dogs, beer, food. Can’t ask for anything more.”

LeGore works in the kitchen located upstairs and away from the customers. He said this separation from the rest of the facility makes it seem as though they’re almost running “two different businesses;” but this helps keep the food clean and away from any contamination.

Their menu includes a variety of foods not only for people, but also for their furry friends.

“We really try to have an option for everybody,” said LeGore.

They are currently serving pumpkin-flavored “pupsicles,” or ice cream for dogs, to keep with the season.

Benbassat also stressed the importance of having an off-leash area for dogs’ socialization; his dog, a German Shepherd named Rex, can behave aggressively or in a more territorial manner when on a leash.

“He’s the most friendly dog ever in an off-leash area,” he said.

Benbassat said they are working on making the restaurant safer for COVID indoors as well as installing more heating stations outside to help keep customers warm and safe.

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