Check out our slideshow of Happy Hour at The Boneyard, a bar for man and his best friend.
The popular refrain is that a dog is man's best friend. And it's true, mostly.
Lassie was pretty boss. She must've saved that clumsy, disaster-prone boy 70 times. Hooch, despite a slight slobbering problem and a fondness for chewing furniture, was aces. He took a bullet in the name of justice.
Marmaduke was goofily charming (the 2-D version; the movie version was completely uninteresting); Snoopy was exceptional and introspective and dynamic. The dog from Man's Best Friend was...eh, he was pretty terrible. He ate a person.
But most of the rest of the list of planet Earth's dogs are top-notch. Which is why it's so curious that they've had such a hard go of it at Houston area bars.
"The Houston Health Department made it pretty difficult to take your dog anywhere," says Justin Bardwell, 31. "It's pretty ridiculous. That's why I came up with this."
Bardwell is referring to his new pro-dog bar, The Boneyard, a modified modular building dropped into the middle of a lot on Washington Avenue located well away from the glitz that street typically offers.
True, plenty of bars around town are generally dog-friendly, like Richmond Chill Bar and Grill (4704 Richmond) and Rudyard's (2010 Waugh). But Boneyard is Houston's first bar built specifically for that purpose; in addition to the actual building, there are more than 7,000 square feet of dog park on the premises.
"I wanted to have somewhere that I could take Devo," Bardwell says of his puggle, a solid black hybrid pug and beagle. "And I've always wanted to own my own business, to own a bar. It all fit. He's the mascot here."
Before the evening rush hits, Bardwell is sitting at one of the tables inside of his venue. His sleeve-tattooed arms imply that he might possibly be a bit ornery or reckless, but he's neither. Instead, a decade of working as a marketer for a very large company has made him an amiable, polished conversationalist.
Even without the dog park, the Boneyard is impressive. One part evokes a Southern-style hunting lodge, with wood floors, wood ceilings and a traditional painting of what might be a setter of some sort. The crimped aluminum casing surrounding the bar and contemporary painting of a greyhound make it feel more like a modish drinkery.
Frankly, it's a tad hard to find anything the Boneyard has done wrong, either with the design or the business model. Even those without canines — dogs, not teeth — are impressed.
"It's really cool," says Sara Arola, visiting despite the fact she has only a cat at home. "We more than likely will come back, especially during the summer. This is a great patio. We have a cat, but don't know if we can do the dog thing — it's a lot more responsibility.
"But with places like this in mind," she adds, "who knows?"
At first, the city didn't exactly bite at the idea of a dog park/bar. (Get it?) Postponements and hold-ups slowed the process considerably, and it took more than seven months to get the plans for Boneyard approved.
But once the red tape was cleared, success followed immediately. With little more than word-of-mouth advertising, Boneyard is already seeing upwards of 200 people stop by over the course of a Saturday or Sunday. Weekdays are catching up, too.
"It's a great concept," says Shauni Matthews, a 24-year-old accountant. "You want to go to happy hour after work, but as a dog owner that's not an option because they've been inside all day.
"You have to go home and feed them, let them run around and give them the attention they need," she adds. "So it's great to be able to come to a place like this."
Meanwhile, Reece, an energetic four-year-old blue heeler, is running around trying to hump other dogs in the pen. Nobody's surprised or noticeably bothered by this.
Drinks are had. Butts are smelled.
Welcome to Boneyard.
B L A C K I E; Roky Moon & BOLT
Two of our favorite local musicians are in action this weekend. Thursday, B L A C K I E will do what B L A C K I E does (try to cause your brain to implode) at Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel). He's typically been described as being a noise artist or a punk/rap artist, but we're going to officially modify that. Heretofore, B L A C K I E will be referred to as the founding father of riot-rap. Second, Roky Moon & BOLT kick off their tour with a show at The Mink (3718 Main) Friday, alongside Poor Pilate, Jim & the Toms, and Springfield Riots. Go to both, buy some merchandise, then go home and pat yourself on the back.
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