Dog-Friendly café’s make a welcome return

‘The Romantic’ café and gift store owners Margot and Ross Shearer relax with their dogs ‘Bunny Valentine’ and ‘Penn’ in their dog-friendly outdoor dining area. Photo: Sharyn Kerrigan.

Sunshine Coast Council’s position on allowing companion dogs in outdoor dining areas has fallen into line with amended national guidelines, giving back control to individual business owners.
The Australian Food Standards Code was amended in October last year to include the clause “A food business may permit a dog that is not an assistance animal to be present in an outdoor dining area” and council recently clarified their position to now allow shop owners to decide their own policy.
The issue of dogs being allowed to join their masters in outdoor dining areas has been a long been a source of heated debate on the coast, with dog lovers protesting their right to have their four-legged companions join them at their favourite Café.
Conversely, patrons argued their right to enjoy a meal and peaceful outing without the intrusion of a stranger’s pet.
Local Council By-Laws still need to be followed however, and dog-friendly cafés and eateries will be required to erect signage informing patrons of their choice to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas.
Although there are no specific signage size and style requirements, any café without a sign will be deemed to be a prohibited place for dogs.
The changes have been welcomed by local food business owners, particularly in the dog-friendly and relaxed Peregian Village, where Raw Energy owner Sam Nagy has initiated a competition for the best ‘dogs welcome’ sign for his store.
The unique competition is open to all ages and entries need to be submitted (in store) on A4 paper. The competition will be judged on Valentine’s Day and the winner will be the poster that best illustrates that ‘dogs are allowed in the outside dining area’, with the winning entrant scoring themselves two free breakfast specials.
Raw Energy Peregian is joined by nearby ‘The Romantic’ store in celebrating Council’s policy clarification. The Romantic is a dog-friendly cafe and everyday ‘gift’ shop, owned by Margot and Ross Shearer, whose own two dogs join them in their outdoor dining area on a regular basis.
Council intends to work with business owners over the next few months to ensure they understand their local laws responsibility, but patrons can expect ‘dog-friendly’ signage to start appearing in coffee shops and café’s across the coast – making the decision on where to dine with (or without) furry friends much easier.
The Australian Food Standards variation/amendment can be accessed here.