Some people make a break for the mountains when it the mercury rises in Washington, others head for the beach. Those who stick around will find a city, and many of their favorite watering holes, going to the dogs. Literally.
Larry’s Lounge is neighborhood favorite for its strong drinks, tasty menu and welcoming vibe. The 18th Street gay bar is popular with a primary clientele — neighborhood men, women and dogs. The bar had long hosted a perennially popular “Yappy Hour” on their spacious patio, but the event’s great success — and its patrons’ devotion to their canines — has led Larry’s new owners to encourage furry visitors at every hour of the week.
“It all comes back to: what’s the neighborhood like?” says Larry’s co-owner Ron Robinson. “Our customers can go many places and I want to keep them here. [Our patio] has bowls everywhere. I go over and beyond in looking to make dogs more welcome by offering services for them. I always have doggy treats in my pocket. All natural. You’ve got to look at the healthy side too.”
Walking by Larry’s in the warm months is a happy sight indeed. Nestled at the corner of 18th and T, at the hinterlands where Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and U Street come together abruptly, the laidback bar’s patio serves as a low-key neighborhood magnet for those who either own dogs or appreciate their company while drinking.
Robinson himself is a longtime animal lover. He does not have dogs of his own, as the demands of bar ownership lead him instead to the rescue of two less-demanding cats. But just because he devotes all his time to the lounge does not mean his customers’ dogs get anything less than the royal treatment.
“I just want dogs here,” he says. “The neighborhood knows that I live two doors down and that I’m here at 9 a.m. with treats in my pocket. The dogs can come over to me – I get down on the ground and play with them. We’re right by [dog-walking firm] City Dogs and I know the dog walkers. Our customers say ‘You’re the most friendly bar to have dogs, and you’re so sweet to them.’”
The peaceful, tree-lined streets around Larry’s Lounge seem to house as many dogs as people, reflected in some of the area’s other businesses. Ever-crowded Adams Morgan coffee shop Tryst has a new patio that is dog (but not cigarette) friendly, and always has a full bowl of water on the ground for those tongue-lolling summer days.
Hidden gem Hans Pedr’ Kaffe, on Florida Avenue, has some of the best Belgian pastries, coffee and savory food in the city. Those Chimay beers and almond croissants taste great in the restaurant’s immaculate interior, but a veteran dog owner won’t feel truly at home without their begging buddy at their feet. Luckily, Hans Pedr’ Kaffe’s shaded patio provides room for two brunch guests and a weimaraner, and their wait staff are quick with a water dish and some affectionate pats to the nose.
Just down the street is the hippie coffee shop Pleasant Pops, which features (among other items) freshly made sandwiches, salads and their eponymous frozen delights. The storefront is flanked by a row of picnic tables that actually look lonely if not attached to at least one smiling dog.
Dog owners know the benefits of an outdoor gathering spot that allows dogs, as most meals are better with a best friend. Robinson may be a bar-owner as a profession, but animals have long been his passion.
“I’m such an animal person because they bring great satisfaction,” he says. “They’re comforting. They gravitate towards me, too. I’m great with horses, dogs, cats. I saw a flock of sheep once out in Pennsylvania and they came running to me.”
While that particular animal has yet to make an appearance at Larry’s, Robinson (and his pocket full of treats) has without question created a true social paradise for dogs and the people who love them.