Pet friendly restaurants or cafes, which serve special food for your furry friends and give them equal priority, are hard to find. However, we came across a few in the city where you can not only hear the woof-woofs and meow-meows, but the pets roaring with happiness.
Where Else Diner
Ardesh Rustomjee, a pet lover, an animal behaviourist and a fitness enthusiast, always had a dream of starting his own business but never thought it would be a pet cafe. At first, he thought of opening a cafe where people could find a variety of food, but later, he zeroed in on a pet friendly cafe.
Rustomjee says that till some years ago, Pune hardly had any cafes that would welcome you along with your pet. But now there are a few. “When your pet accompanies you, they are going to expect a bite. Keeping that in mind, I introduced an exclusive food menu for the pets as well,” says Rustomjee, who himself is a pet lover and owns three Persian cats who live at the cafe. The philosophy behind the cafe is to give equal priority to animals.
Where Else Diner offers Parsi and English food, customised hot chocolate and other beverages.
The cafe is growing well without any promotion or marketing, it’s just word-of-mouth publicity. “We offer a range of food to choose from for pets,” says Rustomjee who is very particular about the products and the quality they offer. The cafe has never received a complaint about food. That said, they do take customer feedback seriously and make additions to the menu if they receive any request. “The management takes it very seriously and incorporates all suggestions,” he says adding that many pet friendly cafes do not have in-house pets, but they do. Dogs and cats apart, they also welcome snakes, rabbits and other pets.
Where Else Diner is planning to reach out to as many animal lovers as possible. They are opening very soon in Bandra, Mumbai, and are in talks to open a cafe in Goa too. Expanding his reach, Rustomjee is planning for pet friendly motels as well.
A few favourite food of the pets from the menu include Chicken Broth and Rice and Chicken Chew Sticks for dogs and treats for cats. They also organise birthday parties for pets and offer different animal toys to play with.
Being an animal behaviourist, Rustomjee also helps his customers better understand their pets. Every week, they organise a small event at the cafe, where all the pet owners put up their queries and concerns and Rustomjee guides them.
He takes good care of street dogs as well. Instead of biscuits and food loaded with sugar or salt, he feeds them nutritious meals on a daily basis.
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Where Else Diner, Gulmohar Galaxy, Villa No 18, Viman Nagar
Timings: Weekdays, 11.30 am-11 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9.30 am-11 pm
Savyasachin Mittal, a corporate trainer-cum-cafe owner, started Cafe Joshua five years ago. Animals are equally valued and given equal priority at this pet friendly cafe. The cafe has been named after Mittal’s first dog Joshua, who is now eight years old. “The ideology behind the cafe is to co-exist,” he says. People not only visit the cafe along with their pets, but also for the cafe’s in-house pets.
Along with their regular food menu, they have a separate menu for pets. They also organise birthday parties for them and offers them a variety of healthy cakes.
Sharing his experience, Mittal, who travels a lot, says that he had a hard time finding places where he could hangout or enjoy food with his dogs because not everyone or every place welcomes pets. “Based on my own experiences, I came up with the idea of opening a cafe where animals can also enjoy along with their owners,” he says. So a pet can eat what his owner has. “But of course it has to be baked and cooked according to their digestive system,” says Mittal. Meat, chicken, eggs, sugar free cakes for birthday parties and so on are available at this cafe.
He believes in equal treatment so if the owner is served food on a plate, the pets have it in a bowl. If the owner is served a glass of water, the pet too has his own bowl of water. For birthdays, the cafe serves cake with its signature paw mark, made of cinnamon powder. Pets at Cafe Joshua are not served readymade food, they get to eat fresh, nutritious food according to their taste and body.
Mittal is planning to expand in the area and offer his services in other places such as Baner, Viman Nagar, Wagholi and Kothrud. But he’s not going to include any boarding facility as he believes that pets are part of the family and we are responsible for them. “If we do not leave our family members behind, why would we leave our pets?” he asks.
He takes customer feedback very seriously and includes different food items in the menu when requested. Carrot cake is one of them.
Giving an insight on why it’s a must visit place, Mittal says that the biggest draw is its food and the other attractions are its hospitality and cosy ambience. He believes that the product has to be strong but the way you serve it needs to be even better.
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Cafe Joshua, Marutirao Gaikwad Nagar, near Gaikwad Petrol Pump, Aundh
Timings: 8 am-10 pm
Fat Cat’s Cafe
Running successfully from the last seven years, Fat Cat’s Cafe is not a dedicated pet cafe but they happily welcome guests with pets. Situated next to a vet clinic many customers who visit the veterinarian come to their cafe to relax and give their pets a treat for being well behaved.
Melanie Andrade and her husband Sunil Kirpalani are not professional chefs or trained in hospitality. They started the cafe out of passion. Andrade says, “The idea was to offer our neighbourhood a cafe where people can walk into, have coffee, cakes and other food items. As I am the one cooking and baking, I make sure to keep variation in the food. Everyday we try to give something new, fresh, nutritious and something that you are assured of is the best.”
She wanted the cafe to have two big appealing factors. One was to make it a book cafe, so that one could find a lot of books on book shelves. “People can buy books, exchange them or read it while enjoying their beverages. Second, was to make it pet friendly,” she says.
Out of hundred names, she says that her kids liked Fat Cat’s Cafe the most. “We wanted it to be fancy yet something that people could easily remember, so we chose it,” says Andrade, adding, “We do not have a separate menu for pets, but our customers who have been coming here with their pets for a long time are like family now. Whatever they want, they get. It could be omelet, eggs, chicken etc. On Christmas, we bake special dog cookies as I believe that they also deserve gifts and treats. I also have a dog at home, so I know what they like and I bake accordingly.”
Most of the pet friendly cafes do not allow pets inside the cafe, they allow them to be in the lawn only. “If the dogs or cats are well behaved and other customers are fine with them being around, we allow them to come in,” she says.
Talking about whether she is planning to shift from a pet friendly cafe to a pet cafe, and add a menu for pets she says that she will be more than happy to extend her menu but only on demand. “We already have so much food that no dog has said ‘no’ to, but we do bake cakes and other food when our customers make a request,” she says.
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Fat Cat’s Cafe, Shop No 5, Clover Heights Shopping, opp Salunkhe Vihar Society, Salunkhe Vihar Road, Wanawadi
Timings: 8 am-2 pm and 5-9 pm, Thursdays closed