Treat dog dinners with pizza, sushi, fried chicken at New Zealand’s first dog restaurant in Auckland

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Sam Kim and his two-year-old Maltese poodle, Pama, do it all together.

They exercise, throw parties and go on vacation. The only thing they couldn’t do was share a meal at the restaurant.

That’s why Kim decided to open Dog On Restaurant, the country’s first dog restaurant.

“This restaurant is about dogs, not owners,” Kim said.

“There are many restaurants that accept dogs, but this is the first establishment where dogs sit at the table and dine.”

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Upon arrival at the restaurant, dogs will be kept on a leash at one of 20 custom-made dog-sized tables.

The waiters will serve human customers coffee or food in a cabinet. But dogs will be able to dine on pizza, sushi, fried chicken, and cakes. The price of food will vary from eight to eighteen dollars.

Sam Kim was inspired to develop a dog restaurant so that he and his two-year-old Maltese poodle, Pama, could share a meal together.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Sam Kim was inspired to develop a dog restaurant so that he and his two-year-old Maltese poodle, Pama, could share a meal together.

Kim has been making gourmet dog food since 2019, when he opened Dog On Restaurant as an online pet food delivery program.

At first, he feared that such a unique concept would spread.

“There was nothing like it in New Zealand. So we were very scared at first thinking that it might not work. So we were looking for a way to test the concept.

To test his idea, Kim booked a seat at the Auckland Pet Expo 2019. He sold all of his stock in under two hours.

Macaroons, fried chicken, pizza, sushi, and cakes are just a few of the dog treats that can be ordered at Dog On Restaurant.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Macaroons, fried chicken, pizza, sushi, and cakes are just a few of the dog treats that can be ordered at Dog On Restaurant.

“This experience made me realize how much demand there was for these kinds of products,” Kim said.

One of the secrets to their success is Kim’s mother, Sunny Won, who flew to South Korea to become a certified pet food chef.

Won brought back a level of skills and expertise that allowed the company to experiment with different concepts, Kim said.

Pama tests the latest batches of sushi and pizza in the commercial kitchen of Dog On restaurant in Parnell.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Pama tests the latest batches of sushi and pizza in the commercial kitchen of Dog On restaurant in Parnell.

“My mother writes all the menus and recipes. She comes up with all these amazing ideas. She just told me that she works on dog wines, dog ice cream and dog macaroons.

Each meal goes through a rigorous lab testing process so owners know exactly what they are feeding their dogs, right down to the last calorie.

“All of our food is lab tested to analyze nutritional intake to make sure our food matches a dog’s daily calorie intake,” Kim said.

The food is prepared in such a way that a human can eat it safely, although he may not enjoy it as much as his canine friends. Since a dog’s stomach is more sensitive than a human’s, it prefers food that would taste bland to our senses.

After the success of the online store, Kim felt that her customers would be ready to have this experience in a real restaurant.

After long delays due to Covid-19 lockdowns, Kim took the plunge and bought commercial property in Westgate.

Birthday cakes are a bestseller, the "Chocolate" the frosting is made from mixed and dehydrated carrots.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Birthday cakes are a bestseller, the “chocolate” icing is made from mixed and dehydrated carrots.

Kim is currently putting the finishing touches on coffee tables, leashes, fancy bowls and whatever else he’ll need for this restaurant.

“We want our customers to have an amazing experience, especially our doggie customers who will be able to try a type of food they’ve never tasted before,” Kim said.

In the future, Kim plans to open more Dog On restaurants around the world. For his second store, he is targeting Victoria, Australia.


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