Ask Evan: Dogs in Restaurants

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askevan_header_2Every Tuesday I answer a question from a Good Food listener.  You can email me a question, leave one on Facebook or add one in the comments section here.  This week’s question comes from Diana:

A lot of places in Europe have no policy against dogs joining their masters inside certain food establishments. Frankly, I find dogs easier to take when I’m dining than loud grubby kids. I once saw a young man at the Sizzler salad bar pick his nose, pour the sunflower seeds from the jar into his hand, pour some on his salad, and throw the rest back in the jar. My dogs would never do that, mainly because they lack opposable thumbs and can’t easily pick their noses. Nevertheless, it seems quite odd to me that a well-trained, well groomed bulldog or two can’t join me in the local Osteria or Gastropub whilst junior is allowed to snot-enhance salad toppings and run about screaming. What is your personal position on the matter?

I just got off the phone with Nick of the LA County Health Department to ask if there is an actual formal ordinance prohibiting dogs in restaurants. And, big surprise, of course there is. It’s “Subdivision B – live animals may not be allowed in a food facility.” There are a couple of exceptions like service animals and fish in tanks waiting to be eaten. I wonder if that includes service monkeys. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

State and local ordinances are usually based on the FDA’s Food Code, which includes warnings about people washing their hands after handling service animals.

I love animals, particularly my boyfriend, I mean pooch, Paco who is a charming fellow. I admit to bringing him to Angeli when it’s closed to keep me company. He loves it! And you’re right. He doesn’t have any of the behaviors our wonderful younger guests do. No throwing bread clumps around, or getting melted pizza cheese on the chair leg, syrupy coke spilled over the table or leaving a dirty diaper in the bathroom. He’s just a happy, smiling, blood pressure reducing presence. But I expect not everyone thinks as we do. Some people don’t like animals and wouldn’t welcome them in the next chair. Some cultures equate dogs with filth and who wants to created that association in a restaurant? That’s why the proliferation of dog loving outdoor patios and seating areas are so great. Except it seems that everytime Paco and I go sit outside at a restaurant he always migrates to the table with the cutest boys.

There’s always the @PhydoughTruck