What’s on the menu… pupcakes and woofles?
Not quite, but can we interest you in a ‘cherry barkwell’ tart? Or how about a ‘Doggy-Doo-Doo’ cupcake (don’t worry, it’s just icing)?
I’ll pass, thanks. So what’s this all about?
Part of a multi-million-pound renovation of a former Debenhams in central Bournemouth’s Bobby & Co department store, Drool is billed as ‘the world's first food hall’ devoted entirely to dogs. There’s going to be a cake shop; a doggy tuck shop; and, for the ‘eco-conscious canine’, a dog ball recycling centre. All the stands in the hall will be hound-height – allowing dogs to shop for themselves and choose their own treats – with dedicated holes designed for sniffing, so they can be sure to choose their favourites.
Maintaining social distancing is going to be an absolute nightmare in this place
Indeed, and we haven’t even told you about the Lick ‘n’ Mix station yet. All the treats have been taste-tested by a range of lucky pooches, with delicacies on offer including fish and chip-flavour dog treats; seaside-themed biscuits; dog doughnuts; and freshly-made liver cakes. Human’s aren’t entirely left out either. The hall will offer people-appropriate refreshments sold, suitably enough, from a dog-shaped 2CV truck. Expect puppicinos to feature on the menu.
This all sounds a bit barking mad to me
It’s certainly eccentric, but well intentioned. Drool has been created with the health and happiness of its canine guests front and centre, and is designed to give pups a cool respite from the summer heat (endless napping options are promised).
Is it really a world first?
It’s impossible to know for sure, but frankly whether it is or not is besides the point. Hospitality has been making a noticeable effort to chase the so-called ‘doggy dollar’ for a number of years now. Take American burger group Shake Shack, for example, which serves a dedicated ‘woof’ menu from all of its restaurants, including here in the UK. The offer includes the Pooch-ini, with red velvet dog biscuits, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard; and the Bag O’Bones red velvet biscuit doggie bag. The biscuits are especially made for Shake Shack by Bocce’s bakery in New York.
Do you reckon we can expect to see more doggy food halls opening in the future?
Who can say. Drool is described as a pop up, and is only set to run until September, from there there’s no saying where it will go. There are plenty more empty Debenhams and other department store units across the country looking for new leaseholders, which could a prime opportunity to take Drool all over the UK. Coincidentally Simon Mitchell, chief executive of food market operator KERB, recently told BigHospitality that the surplus of large empty retail spaces on the high street would lead to the development of more food hall concepts. Although he was more talking about ones frequented by people, rather than poodles.