Dogs on Restaurant Outdoor Patios – New Ordinance Approved

Great news! After working on this issue for months, I am pleased to report that today the city council approved a new ordinance for restaurants to allow dogs on outdoor patios. Currently, dogs are prohibited from outdoor restaurant patios under any circumstances. Despite this rule, dog owners regularly take their pets with them when they dine outside. The new rule will let restaurants and cafes seek a variance so they may allow dogs outside. Business owners may apply for the variance immediately.

I am proud to have led the effort on this. Over seven months ago, I got a call about concerns that restaurants in West Village were getting notices of violation for allowing their patrons to bring dogs to their outdoor patios. This prohibition against dogs on outdoor patios made no sense to me. I see so many residents accompanied by their dogs at cafes along Greenville, in Uptown, and Oak Lawn. We’re trying to improve the quality of life for Dallas residents, and if the city enforced its current law, many, many restaurants and cafes would be fined for allowing dogs outside. This prohibition seems particularly antiquated when we consider our increasingly dense urban core and the addition of many residents who love to walk to a nearby cafe and enjoy their meal or coffee in the company of their pooch.

So I worked with the city attorney and city staff to find a way that we could balance allowing dogs on patios with ensuring health and safety of diners. City staff worked closely with the Texas State Health Department to devise an ordinance that addresses those concerns. Keep in mind that not all restaurants will be affected; it’s an “opt-in” program, so only those restaurants and cafes that apply with the city and are approved may allow dogs on their patios.

8 YES: Hunt, Natinsky, Salazar, Garcia, Koop, Medrano, Griffith, Oakley
5 NO: Miller, Rasansky, Chaney, Thornton-Reese, Blaydes

Below are the requirements that a restaurant/cafe must comply with in order to be approved for a variance:

  • Outside, separate entrance required for direct access of dogs to outdoor patio
  • Conspicuous entry signage required stating “Dog Friendly Restaurant -Dog Access Only Through Outdoor Patio”
  • Air curtains required to separate outdoor patio from interior offood establishment
  • Dogs prohibited inside, on playground areas, and on patio chairs, tables, and counters
  • Food preparation (including mixing drinks and serving ice) prohibited in patio area
  • Patio must be cleaned at least every 30 minutes with separate cleaning equipment from that used inside
  • On-duty food establishment employees may not have contact with dogs
  • Dogs must be kept on leash, remain in control of customer and wear current rabies vaccination tags
  • Dogs may not have contact with dishes or utensils for food preparation or service