The $100 Restaurant Challenge Goes Dog-Friendly

Want to take the $100 restaurant challenge?

It’s about spending $100 in a local restaurant this week to bolster an industry hit hard by 2020 events.

And if that restaurant is dog-friendly, all the better.

First, how did we get here?

David Lefebvre, Vice President Federal & Quebec, Restaurants Canada, recently addressed a group of TMAC members (Travel Media Association of Canada) via zoom (including me). It’s no surprise, the restaurant industry is struggling during the global pandemic.

Restaurants Canada, established in 1944 as Canadian Restaurant Association, is a membership-based organization with the goal to help food services businesses grow and prosper. According to Lefebvre approximately 10 per cent of Canadian restaurants have already decided not to reopen, and 18 per cent are concerned they might not reopen. Worse, Restaurants Canada predicts closer to 30 per cent in Canada are in danger of not reopening.

“The biggest hurdle,” Lefebvre says, “is consumer confidence.”

With that in mind, TMAC along with Ontario’s Thunder Bay Tourism (where I’m visiting with the dog the first opportunity I get), came up with an idea to promote local take out. Then they offered a group of us $100 to participate in the restaurant challenge: spend $100 at a local restaurant and share on social.

Immediately, I though of all the dog-friendly coffee shops, cafes and bakeries my fearless pooch Victor has visited: My Dog’s Café & Bar on Locke Street and Bring Your Dog Café & Pub on Richwill Street – both in Hamilton, Ontario. And both are shuttered until further notice and aren’t offering takeout.

Munchies Coffee House & BARKery, however, pivoted immediately after mandatory closure by offering family portion casseroles, pies and baked goods via take out and pick up. Order by Wednesday and pick up on Thursday or Friday or order delivery. (Spend the minimum $100, and delivery is free within 40 minutes from Hamilton, Ontario).

Guess where we spent our $100?

Opened in 2009, Munchies claims status as Canada’s first café and restaurant for you and your dog. My crazy Victor first visited four years ago, and I’ve returned many times for apple waffles, despite the fact Munchies has 20 different sweet or savory varieties of Belgium Waffles.

The approximately 10-table café, with a central couch seating area like Friend’s Central Perk, is entirely dog-friendly if you’ve got a well-behaved fixed pup. (My Victor is one of those things). When it’s open at Hamilton’s Upper Gage Avenue, it’s usually filled with regulars – both people and pups. Eating area and kitchen are separated by a floor to ceiling window.

First and foremost, Munchies is a restaurant specializing in homemade baked goods – including dog treats. Munchies offered catering and takeout years before owners Rosie and Gary opened a storefront. So, developing a curbside and delivery menu wasn’t a stretch.

What did $100 get us from Munchies Coffee House and BARKery?

First, free delivery – on any order $100 or more before taxes. Also...

  • Vegan Sheppard’s Pie (serving 5 to 6) $40
  • Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (serving 6) $25
  • A homemade Cherry Pie $25
  • 10 Peanut Butter Dog Treats (serves one spoiled dog) $10

If you had $100 (or perhaps you do), where would you spend it?

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