(Wasserhund craft beers are to bark for at Pups & Pints in Virginia Beach.)
By Marisa Marsey
Woof, woof! Arf! Bark! Bark! That’s Sheepish Onyx, my seven-month-old Mini Sheepadoodle, tail wagging in prestissimo tempo because she’s at Pups and Pints. I’d better turn on Google Translate for Dogese – stat – as she’s eager to weigh in on our area’s first dog park-taproom.
Can we stay? Can we stay? Pleeeeeeease????
Alright. Down, girl.
“Aww. That makes my heart full,” Alex Lawson says in reply to Sheepish’s hind-legs-rearing reaction. Lawson conceived the crossbred business when a career move led her to Houston.
“I wanted to make friends, but I was in my 30s. I was no longer into the bar scene that worked when I was in my 20s at the Oceanfront,” says the Brooklyn native. “The best way turned out to be the dog park. We’d bring beer and wine and hang out.”
When she returned to Hampton Roads a few years ago, she unleashed her plans, teaming up with Christina Sims and Alex Raad. Hence the “Est. 2020” in the paw-printed logo even though they just opened in a former Virginia Beach garden center in April.
Pups and Pints is foremost a canine country club where dogs can run free on two acres with a daily pass or monthly/annual membership. Only humans are allowed inside the handsome 75-seat restaurant/bar due to health regulations, but there’s a walk-up bar and fetching al fresco area with food and beverage service for two- and four-legged creatures to enjoy even without a pass or membership. Decked out with Adirondack chairs and leash clip-equipped picnic tables (crafted by Hardin Wood Designs), fire pits and games galore it’s quite the hipster meetup (did I mention Lawson is originally from Brooklyn?).
Oh! Wow! Nose twitch. What’s that smell? Sniff. Sniff. Grilled chicken bits…mmm! Beef burger…num, num, num! Not table scraps…full dog menu! Cookies! Donuts! Peanut butter-banana “pup”cakes! Face licks for the baker! Could you mix some squirrel into the blueberry-carrot biscuits next time?
Thanks for that ultimate in Yelp reviews, Sheepish. Chef Mason Carter runs the kitchen and credits Sam Giuliano for the all-natural dog treats. The people food includes girth-y gourmet hot dogs with names like the Boston Terrier (on a split brioche bun with spicy mustard and sauerkraut) and the Chihuahua (in a flour tortilla with queso, pico de gallo and pickled jalapeños) plus flatbreads and handhelds. The popular buttermilk fried chicken sandwich gets a nice bite from a spicy aioli.
Grrrr…don’t mean to bitch (oh – wait, I am one!): Must they call the jumbo wings “The Pound?”
Stop growling, Sheeps. But that reminds me, they have a license to brew – so someday you might bring growlers – but with several friendly nearby breweries, P&P offers a dozen beers on tap…
…as well as in cans and bottles, and wine…
Perhaps a bone-dry Chardonnay!?! Heh, heh, heh.
…and cocktails with themed names like Mutt Margarita. Hard seltzers and non-alcoholic options, too.
Zzz. Zzz. This puppy-sized chaise is sweet. Head jerk. Eyes wide. Red alert! Mighty fine-looking Rottweilers headed to off-leash zone.
Dogs must be at least six-months-old, vaccinated and spayed/neutered for that area. They romp untethered under the watchful eyes of “Pawficials” wearing black and white referee uniforms who maintain a fun atmosphere for good, healthy socialization.
“I like that it’s regulated,” says Maddie Smith. “I’ve had terrible experiences at dog parks. Here you can come in and you know they’re going to be fine.” She was sniffing out the joint for her seven-year-old Lab mix Teigen.
Bring ‘em Maddie! And thanks for the tummy rubs. Scratch. Scratch. Snuffle. Snuffle. Ahhhhhh…splash pad! Spraying fire hydrant! Giant tennis ball! Better than chewing slippers (and that’s pretty darn good!).
Sheepish and I both dig how the entire staff is totally into dogs. Much of the place is inspired by Lawson’s two American Bullys, Kanan and Juju. Co-owner Sims is a vet tech (the Fancy Frenchie cocktail salutes her three French Bulldogs), and bartender Josh Parker, who is a professional dog walker, will manage P&P’s soon-to-open doggy daycare. “We know proper ways to respond should there be an incident,” says Lawson.
Dog-owners/lovers Alexis Cummings and Callista Tuck have worked at other restaurants as hosts and food runners, but they prefer their posts as “Pawficials” where their sole function is to ensure safe play among the clientele. “This is one hundred percent better,” says Cummings. “These guests are easier to take care of,” adds Tuck.
Everyone’s welcome, kids, pet-less people (well, cats need not apply). Humans can partake in P&P even if they don’t have a dog.
Yeah…but what’s with that?
Regulars love P&P so much, they created a community group on Facebook (not affiliated with the business’s official page) numbering more than 200. It contains things along the lines of “Max met Weazy, wants to meet up again.”
A “Foam Paw-ty” with a DJ and “Booty and Booze” (exercise followed by an icy cold beer) are just a couple of special events that recently took place. Sign up now for the “Barkcuterie Workshop” on August 6 to make a dog-friendly charcuterie board.
Listen up pack! Hound your owners! Get here! Four paws up!
2413 London Bridge Road, Virginia Beach. 757-703-7877. Open daily. “Yappy Hour” weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. pupsandpints.dog