True dog lovers wish they could bring their canine companions everywhere. Little Rock’s Bark Bar offers them the chance to enjoy creative eats and libations while their dogs enjoy their own gourmet treats and have the full run of the place.
Started five years ago, the full 21-and-over bar features an expansive seating area in which dogs are able to roam and play with each other off-leash. There’s also a large yard filled with tires to run through, boulders to climb, a long dog run and even swimming pools to splash in during the dog days of summer.
At the center of it all is Bark Bar’s bartender and chef Ryan Marsh, for whom the job is a dream come true since he gets to play with dogs all day while serving up his surprising menu. It’s an interesting detour for the graduate of Pulaski Tech’s Arkansas Culinary School, who was recruited after an impressive career feeding humans.
“We’ve heard from visitors that there are other bars that allow dogs, including ones in Kansas and Dallas, but we are the only one that is completely leash off, indoor and outdoor,” says Marsh. “Some of those bars will have a separate place for dogs, whereas our entire establishment is for dogs to play. We tell people it’s like Chuck E. Cheese for dogs.”
Chuck E. Cheese might be known for its hardly-gourmet pizza, but Bark Bar’s menu is more inventively tasty. Dogs can enjoy the Dog’s Dog, in which a Nathan’s beef slider frank is sliced into two “adorable” octopus. For dessert, the Spaniel Sundae, is composed of peanut butter and whipped cream topped with a treat, served up in a 2 oz. cup that’s easy for dogs to lap up.
Human treats include Dog Pile Nachos, which boasts house cheese dip, red onions, cotija cheese, house-made crema, green onions and a choice of either Chinese 5-spice chicken or traditional chili for $2 more. The Pug of Monte Cristo sandwich offers black forest ham and baby Swiss cheese with a spicy mustard base, all dipped in French toast mix and grilled up, served with crispy onion and served with chips.
But the most eye-catching items are the CBD Sundae – offering the Spaniel Sundae with a 3 mg Hawg’s Hemp CBD doggie treat – perfectly priced at $4.20. Also giving pups a chance to chill out a lot is the Dawg Bones CBD, featuring 20 3 mg locally sourced Hawg’s Hemp Dawg Bones.
“I have seen a few people eat my dog treats, especially the ones that are CBD infused, and I’ve definitely seen a person try that Scooby Snack,” he laughs. “The CBD offers two things for dogs – it’ll help dogs who are really anxious with their anxiety.
“It’s also great for larger dogs, older dogs who have joint inflammation and tiredness associated with hard play. If you have a dog running around here for a couple hours, maybe a little CBD treat on the way home calms them down on the way home and helps sore muscles and such.”
Humans can knock back a choice of six “cockertails,” including Poodle Punch consisting of white and dark rum, pineapple juice topped with pomegranate juice. The Barkarita is a canine-themed margarita, while the Skinny Garden Greyhound offers a tasty combination of vodka or gin with grapefruit juice or lime.
A day pass for Bark Bar costs $9 per dog per day, while monthly unlimited memberships run $30 for one dog and $10 more for additional dogs in the same household. The annual membership rate is $200, with additional dogs in the same household added for $50 per pup.
Aside from the food, drinks and play, Bark Bar also features BYOB (Bring Your Own Breed) Wednesdays, in which a pre-selected breed of dog gains free admission for the day. Among the inventive parties the space has offered is a Hairy Potter theme night in which both humans and dogs come dressed in costumes and are served specially-themed food and drinks based on the Harry Potter series of books and movies.
“I literally get to see dogs everyday, and play with dogs every day. If I’ve got five minutes of downtime, I go see my regular customers and see the dogs,” explains Marsh. “Even if I only see them once a week, there’s a little bond and I give them a treat.
“I joke that I could get punched out by a guest, but 20 minutes later I see a corgi in a bowtie, so who cares? People love being here with their dogs. Seeing so many happy people and happy dogs helps make me stay happy.”
Bark Bar is located at 1201 S. Spring St., Little Rock. .Call (501) 295-3989 or visit barkbar.com.