'World's First Dog Tap House' leaving its mark on Tigard
Two years after setting up shop in Tigard's Walmart complex, Fido's: The World's First Dog Tap House, still has the distinction of being the only type of brewhouse of its type around.
"I'm just hoping someone would copy me, because I really like dogs," said owner Scott Porter. "People know what a cat cafe is. … This is the first tap room with adoptable dogs."
In January, the business celebrates its two-year anniversary at its 7700 S.W. Dartmouth St. location in the Tigard Triangle.
While Porter said he's always had an interest in opening some sort of tap room, it wasn't until he and his son visited Purington's Cat Café in Portland that a restaurant and tap house that included animals popped into Porter's head.
The only problem, said Porter, was that the cats weren't necessarily interested in interacting with humans.
"And then my son said, 'If they had dogs, it wouldn't be an issue.' And I thought: bing!" said Porter. "And (we're) still the only one."
A Beaverton resident, Porter said he initially tried to locate in Beaverton, but things didn't work out there because of the difficulty of finding the correct zoning for such a unique business that hadn't been tried before. Porter said although the city of Tigard didn't have a specific zoning designation for his unusual type of business, the city made one for him. It's essentially zoned as an eating and drinking establishment that contains a retail pet store.
And while Fido's is big on dogs, it serves food and beverages — 30 beers on tap, six taps with cider and four with wine — as well.
Of course, there's a dog-themed menu, with so-called "hot dawgs" that range from the German Shepherd (a German sausage covered with sauerkraut) to The Hound (barbecued pulled pork with cole slaw and pickles).
"The food and beer keep the business open," Porter remarked.
Then, for a nominal fee, patrons can turn their attention on the four-legged friends enclosed in a separate room with windows. Cost is $4 for a half-hour with the dogs, or $2 for children.
Also, an outdoor patio seating area allows customers to bring their own dogs as well.
Fido's actually owns the dogs, supplied by Oregon Friends of Animals Shelter, with most of the animals coming from rescue shelters in Stockton, California.
"We typically like to have four (dogs)," Porter said, noting that they can go as high as six. On a recent Tuesday, four smaller dogs played together; two of them were Porter's own.
Porter said when customers decide they want to adopt a rescue dog is all a game of chance, noting that a dry spell of adoptions in the summer was followed by a period when "suddenly everybody wants a dog."
To date, Fido's has adopted out 70 dogs.
On a recent tour, Porter showed off his unconventional tap room, the dog themes of which extend throughout, including a wall displaying large portraits of dogs with their owners. Those dog owners include everyone from an astronaut who has the only official NASA photo taken with his dog to a shot of Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond actor Daniel Craig being "dogged," so to speak, by Her Majesty's corgis.
Porter said he thought once he opened he would attract famous dog-admiring people worldwide and he's done just that. Lee Asher of the Asher House, who travels all around the world in an RV with his dogs in an effort to inspire others to rescue sheltered animals, has been to Fido's twice.
On Sunday, Nov. 3, Fido's hosted a Great Dane jumping contest and race where the dogs carry caricatures of the Democratic hopefuls and long-shot contenders tied around their collars in a race to see who they thought would be the next Democratic presidential nominee.
"We had seven Great Danes run," said Porter. "The Danes didn't like the pictures attached to their collars, and many candidates were shook off their horse and fell out of the race before it began, so the owners used lots of tape."
In the end, it was the dog with Oprah Winfrey aboard that won, said Porter.
For its second anniversary celebration in January, Fido's is hosting a Best Friends Awards contest for videos that showcase the special relationship between dogs and owners. There will be a public vote on the businesses' website before announcing a winner.
With Fido's located in a rather odd location, Porter said most of the gatherings at the restaurant/tap house/adopt-a-rescue-dog business are "event-driven," like a recent "Council, Cops and Conversation" gathering where Tigard residents could meet with Tigard Mayor Jason Snider and Tigard Police Officer Eric Enzenberger to chat about city issues.
Regardless, Porter said he has no plans to close up shop anytime soon.
"My wife and I have been self-employed for 24 years," he said. "We're staying."
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