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Breakout Brands

MUTTS Canine Cantina, a dog park-restaurant hybrid, launches franchising

The Dallas-based dog park with eats and drinks for humans and dogs —MUTTS Canine Cantina — is eyeing aggressive growth

While dog-friendly restaurants have been a staple in trendy urban neighborhoods for several years now, MUTTS Canine Cantina co-founders Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz envisioned a concept that dropped the leash to function as a full dog park with a food and drink menu.

MUTTS Canine Cantina opened in Dallas in 2013, pairing a menu of burgers, fried chicken, milkshakes, and their signature “Barkaritas” with pup-friendly provisions (the frozen “pupsicle” and doggie dog mini hot dog) and three-quarters of an acre for dogs to play in the two enclosed dog runs. Mutts offers a daily ($5.95), monthly ($15.95), or annual memberships ($119.40).

“From an eatertainment standpoint, you need to be either extremely convenient for the consumer or you need to be a unique experience for the consumer to have a reason to get up off the couch,” Kyle Noonan said. “And there’s no better form of entertainment than puppies.”

MUTTS opened its second location in the Fort Worth area in 2018 and announced franchising in January 2019. Nine franchised locations are already in the works, with the first of those slated to open later this year. Three locations are slated for the Austin area in partnership with Austin Round Rock Canine Entertainment, two units will open in Frisco, Tx., and a third franchise location, in partnership with South Texas Capital, will open in New Branufels, Texas. The first three MUTTS locations outside of Texas are also slated to open in Boulder, Colo., starting this year.

“We started seeing other people copying us, none of which have been successful so far,” Noonan said. “Since we created our own category, we wanted to scale as quickly as possible and the best way to do that is through franchising.”

For now, the sun belt region is the primary target for MUTTS, and they plan to grow at a measured pace over the next several years, with a retail line of dog food and treats on the horizon as well. Once they have exhausted the warmer parts of the United States, Noonan says that he thinks MUTTS will try to partner with malls and development companies in indoor/outdoor spaces in the Northeast. 

Editor's note: The 2020 Breakout Brands — emerging innovative restaurant chains with fewer than 10 units that have proven growth potential — were selected and interviewed before the coronavirus pandemic hit the restaurant industry. Nation's Restaurant News has chosen to highlight these innovative brands as planned, but their growth plans may have been impacted by recent events. For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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