I’ve always wanted to meet a hipster dog.
And now I've met several, thanks to a visit to New York City’s first dog café, Boris & Horton, which is opening in Manhattan’s super-trendy East Village neighborhood.
Actually, they probably weren’t aware they were hipsters. Jennifer, a pitbull mix; Kringle, who has a bit of Corgi in him; and Stewie, who appeared to be mostly Chihuahua, were just a trio of sweet dogs, all ready for adoption and/or fostering.
But they were surrounded by people with all the hipster accoutrements – a melange of tattoos, piercings, Warby Parker-like glasses and duffle coats – at the café, which is going through a soft opening before an official launch at the end of January.
Unlike the sprinkling of cat cafes in the city, where people come in to interact with felines that live on the premises – most of which are up for adoption – the dogs at Boris & Horton will be visitors brought in by their owners.
However, the owners, father-and-daughter team Coppy Holzman and Logan Mikhly, will be holding adoption and fostering events at weekends. (Jennifer, Kringle and Stewie were on hand for USA TODAY's visit.)
Like the cat cafes, the animals are separated from food and drink preparation, in this case by a glass partition, with coffee, snacks beer and wine being served up away from the dogs.
With the blessing of the city’s health department, dog owners are able to buy their refreshments – either at an inside counter or, with their pooches at their side, at a street-side kiosk – and then carry them into the doggie den. On one side is a small group of tables, while on the other is canine-themed merchandise.
It’s all very sleek and chic, with painted-brick walls and plenty of stainless steel. And the merchandise is in the same vein, with “artisan” treats from purveyors such as Maison de Pawz and the Portland Pet Food company and carefully curated dog-themed clothing and accessories for humans and animals.
Holzman said he and Mikhly came with the concept after seeing dogs tied up outside coffee shops while their owners were inside sipping lattes and cappuccinos.
“We both like to drink coffee and we both like dogs,” said Holzman, “and we would go to places and one of us would have to stay outside while the other went in. And so we said it would be great if there was a place where we could bring our dogs inside and hang out.”
Coffee drinks, canines coexist at New York's Boris & Horton cafe
And that pair of pets is where the café got its name. Boris belongs to Holzman, who lives a few blocks away, while Horton hangs out with Mikhly, who lives with her new husband in also-hip Williamsburg, just across the East River in Brooklyn.
As for the location, Holzman and Mikhly did their research and rented a couple of adjoining storefonts just a couple of blocks from Tompkins Square Park, which is dog central in the neighborhood.
However, they won’t be tolerating some of the canine capers that go on in the park. On the wall is posted a code of conduct that details the doggie decorum expected at the café, including being always on leashes.
“Dogs must be calm and orderly,” reads one section, while another says that “disruptive or dangerous dogs will be asked to leave.”
And then there’s the section headed “KEEP IT CLASSY,” which forbids shenanigans associated with, um, canine lust. “Mounting is discouraged!” the rule barks.
That doesn’t mean, though, that human romance will be forbidden. In fact, Boris & Horton is partnering with DigDates.com – a sort of Tinder for dog owners – to promote meet-ups at the café, including an event on Valentine’s Day that will launch the app in New York City.
“We definitely see it as a place to have a glass of wine and meet people,” said Mikhly. “And dogs make it super-easy to start a conversation.”
And if their pets overdose on treats, there’s an animal hospital just across the street.