How the pet-crazy trend caught on in downtown Cape Town, making the CBD a haven for hounds.
Every morning, Pogo trots alongside Michael Chandler from their City Bowl home to their shop in Church Street. The miniature Schnauzer bounces into Chandler House happily, greets everyone, and then makes himself comfortable by the counter, waggling his luscious eyebrows as he keeps an eye on business.
Pogo is the ultimate poster boy for the modern Cape Town city dog. He came to live in the CBD just after the first lockdown, when Michael was marooned in his Bree Street flat, and provided his owner with the joy and distraction so many people craved during the worst of 2020. Now, although Michael has moved to the Bo-Kaap, Pogo is pure city dog, accompanying his owner everywhere, from home to work, and all the stops in between.
PETS ARE FAMILY
Cape Town’s CBD, meanwhile, has proven itself to be a poster city for the modern dog. Dog ownership increased all over the world during the pandemic, and Cape Town was no exception.
The owners of dog-friendly restaurants in the city report an increase in furry-customer numbers, with some of them now offering menu items for dogs.
Debbie Wynne, owner of Café Frank in Bree Street – which provides water bowls and homemade dog biscuits, shade in the heat and blankets in the cold – says the decision to make her restaurant dog friendly was because she loves dogs “and there are plenty others like me who want their dogs to go everywhere with them”.
Judi Fourie, owner of Pilcrow & Cleaver on Parliament Street says she’s been pet friendly “since day one” because “a pet is part of the family”. She says some people come every weekend with their dogs.
Butter All Day’s Aninka van Antwerpen agrees: “Pets are family. It’s as simple as that. We love our doggo customers and they love us.”
Michael believes that Cape Town has always been a pet-centred city, but it has become even more welcoming in the past two years. “I think people are gentler now, and sympathetic to others’ needs and feelings.”
Nura Suleiman’s life has been very city-focused, living on the corner of Adderley and Darling Streets, and working in Spin Street. “It’s a very pedestrian life, and I’ve definitely seen an increase in dogs in the city.”
Pepper is a high-energy ten-month-old mixed breed who gets walked mornings and evenings, and Nura says she’s felt blessed to have a dog in the city. “I’ve met so many great people. We go to a lot of restaurants and with the parks all around, and the mountain, I’d say it’s a ten out of ten for having a dog in the city.”
Michael agrees. When a business provides a water bowl for your dog without you asking, you immediately feel a connection, he says. Clarke’s and Between Us are two of his favourite haunts because of their hospitality towards Pogo. And the Company’s Garden is “a great place to take a pooch for a scooch”.
CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos says the move to a pet-friendly CBD shows that city centre entrepreneurs are resilient and agile, and able to adjust to trends to ensure their businesses not only survive but thrive.
BOOMING PET ECONOMY
When the pandemic struck, Flux Trends reported the global pet economy blossomed, with premium food, luxury services, state-of-the-art healthcare and insurance the order of the day, driven by the “humanisation of pets or pet parenting”.
Pets are seen as substitute children, particularly by lonely millennials, empty nesters, single professionals and couples who delay having children. “These fur babies have transitioned from pets to companions who provide emotional support and are regarded as members of the family … creating the opportunity for tremendous business opportunities.
Take Louise Park Ross, owner of a “very old little lady” called Lucky.* The Cape Town creative started a business called Lucky and Lou, which specialises in chic dog jerseys. Lucky goes everywhere with Louise, in winter sporting a sweet little warmer. Louise has also noticed that the global pet craze has turned the CBD into a pup-friendly spot.
*Sadly, Lucky passed away as we finalised this release.
Owners who see pets as “substitute children” according to one psychologist, are prepared to fork out for the best nutrition, luxury services (like grooming, doggy daycare, and pet hotels) and health insurance.
From a 2021 survey, Mediamarket reports that around half of pet owners spent between R100 and R500 a month on pet accessories, while another 30% spend between R500 and R1 500 every month on accessories. Some even spend up to R2 000 a month.
Since opening its doors in 2015, @frits Dog Hotel & Daycare Centre in the Bo-Kaap has cared for more than 300 000 dogs. While business slowed at the onset of the pandemic, dogs are “back at school” and the hotel, which has doggie dormitories and dog sitters, is as busy as ever over weekends.
Flux Trends says there has always been a segment in society in virtually every culture willing to overspend on their pets. The discerning owners who live or visit the enticing Cape Town city centre are proving this to be true, and in downtown Cape Town, every doggie is certainly having its day.
MARVELOUS MENUS FOR MUTTS
1. Pilcrow & Cleaver
A doggie menu is available daily, comprising steak with potato wedges, chicken chipolatas with carrots, tuna squares on brown rice and nice cream which is frozen yoghurt with peanut butter and banana. The doggie meals are served in Soenchie bowls made by a local ceramist.
3.2 Piazza Parliament St | 072 897 3213 | www.fidelis.capetown
2. Café Frank
Café Frank’s menu includes bone broth and gluten-free peanut butter biscuits (starters), free-range chicken, liver, and sweet potato potjie (main course) and Kefir berry ice pops (dessert). The restaurant has freshly made food available for takeaway and sit-down service with dogs on Fridays while biscuits, which consist of free-range bone broth and three types of gluten-free flour, peanut butter and flaxseeds, are always available.
160 Bree St | 062 667 4633 \ 021 423 0360 | www.cafefrank.com
176 Bree St | 079 729 5316 | www.betweenus.capetown
Burger & Lobster
105 Bree St | 021 422 4297 | www.burgerandlobster.co.za
Butter All Day
70 Loop St | 082 853 1939| www.butterallday.com
Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room
133 Bree St | 087 470 0165 | www.clarkesdining.co.za
3.2 Piazza Parliament St | 064 301 6328 | www.fidelis.capetown
Mozart on Church
37 Church St | 021 422 1765 | www.mozartonchurch.com
Roamwork (Coworking office space)
50 Harrington St (The Harrington) | 021 300 6677 |www.roam.work
Seed & Circus
7 Constitution St |063 776 8662 |Instagram: @seedandcircus
Stellski Coffee Bar (named after the owner’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Stella)
59 Loop St | 072 135 2677 | www.stellski.com
The Company’s Garden Restaurant
15 Queen Victoria St | 021 423 2919 | www.thecompanysgarden.com
The Royal Oyster Bar
17 Bree St | 071 490 2834 | www.the-royal-oyster.com
Villa 47 (Deck area)
47 Bree St | 021 418 2740 | www.villa47.co.za
DOGGIE DAYCARE CENTRES
It’s a dog’s life at a luxury pet hotel. The old-style kennel has made way for doggie day-care centres that provide ultimate comfort, care, and convenience for pampered pets. There are none in the CCID’s footprint in the CBD as yet, but on its fringe, you will find the best of the best:
By Karin Schimke