NAPLES — Doggy dining is coming to Naples.
Naples City Council is expected Wednesday to discuss an ordinance that would allow restaurants with outdoor seating to have designated seating for dogs and their owners.
The ordinance creates an exemption to state law – which forbids pets from entering a restaurant – and will allow dogs in the outdoor dining areas that have received a permit.
“I think it’s something that people want,” Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke said. “This is really a tool to allow the private businesses to control who uses their outdoor dining.”
Gina Lynch, the area manager for Campiello’s, 1177 Third St. S., and Cafe & Bar Lurcat, 494 Fifth Ave. S., said both downtown restaurants allow dogs in the outside seating area. Lynch said the company made the decision after customers requested it.
Lynch said the restaurants receive very few complaints about the dogs, and the majority of the people who bring their dogs in are regulars.
“I think restaurants were allowing dogs, and didn’t know we didn’t have a city code,” Reinke said. “If a dog is in the restaurant before this law is passed, it’s not a violation of city code, it’s (a violation) of state code.”
State code doesn’t allow pets at restaurants because of health concerns. But in 2006 a state bill changed that, and created an exemption process for local governments wanting to become more pet friendly.
Naples City Council agenda
Want to thumb through Naples City Council’s agenda? Click on "documents" below for more information on the doggy dining ordinance and other items scheduled to be discussed Wednesday.
The law – dubbed the Dixie Cub Clary Local Control Act after former state Sen. Charlie Clary’s dog Dixie Cup – gives local governments the ability to issue permits for restaurants interested in allowing dogs to dine with their owners.
Restaurants would need to follow specific rules to get permits, like having hand sanitizer on outdoor tables and signs reminding customers to wash their hands.
The city is proposing $15 a year for restaurants seeking a permit, both for the initial permit and for annual renewals.
Jane Wood, owner of The Jolly Cricket, 720 Fifth Ave. S., and Jane’s Cafe on Third, 1209 Third St. S., said dog-lovers like having the option.
“I think they appreciate it, otherwise they have to leave them at home,” she said.
Wood said dogs are welcome to dine with their patrons at both of her downtown Naples restaurants.
The local exemption will be the second action in about a month aimed at making the city of Naples more pet-friendly. Naples City Council in May approved a plan for an off-leash dog park on the city’s campus on Riverside Circle.
“I think allowing (dogs) on the outdoor dining just adds to the character of our community,” said Matthew Kragh, the Naples architect who designed Naples dog park. “I don’t know why too many people would be opposed to it. Even if you’re not a dog lover, you have the option of going inside.”
Dogs wouldn’t be allowed inside restaurants, except in the case of a service dog.
The city of Naples isn’t the only local government that allows dogs at restaurants.
Collier County government revised its animal control ordinance in 2008 to accommodate outdoor dining, said John Torre, the county’s spokesman.
County ordinances generally apply to unincorporated parts of Collier, Naples City Manager Bill Moss said.
Bonita Springs briefly talked about a doggy diner ordinance, but City Manager Gary Price said the ordinance never went anywhere.
Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said he hopes the change will attract more people to Naples restaurants.
“In this economy people are looking for ways to bring people in. I would love to have our restaurant owners advertise and say we are pet friendly,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Naples City Council meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Naples City Hall, Eighth Street South.