Puppachinos and lamb omelettes: catering for the furry customers

Naoko Okamoto with Douglas out front of Cafe Chew Chew Pet Restaurant, part of a growing trend of eateries catering for dogs.
Naoko Okamoto with Douglas out front of Cafe Chew Chew Pet Restaurant, part of a growing trend of eateries catering for dogs.  Photo: Dean Sewell

A three course meal. Lamb omelette. Yoghurt jelly. These are some of the choices on the menu of north Sydney restaurant, Chew Chew. But there’s a twist: it caters only for canine customers.

Chew Chew Pet Restaurant owner and animal nutritionist Naoko Okamoto has operated in Wollstonecraft for the past nine years, providing a tasty meal for pets and sharing her healthy pet diet knowledge with the owners.

“I wanted to do something to help [the community]. We have helped many dogs and people,” she said. “I am very proud.”

The pet and pet supply retail industry in Australia has grown by almost 7.5 per cent from 2014 to 2019.
The pet and pet supply retail industry in Australia has grown by almost 7.5 per cent from 2014 to 2019. Photo: Dean Sewell

The Chew Chew Pet Restaurant is part of a growing trend of eateries catering for pets as owners increasingly treat their dogs like human family members. Pet parents may once have sought out novelty cafes that offered their furry friend a birthday cake or dogaccinos. Now, the five-star treatment has become so common that cafes a few metres apart are serving up similar dog menus.

Animal Medicines Australia report on pet ownership numbers and trends in Australia every three years and its 2016 report found 3.6 million Australian households had a dog, accounting for 38 per cent of homes. That's 20 dogs per 100 people in Australia. This "rise of the 'fur baby'" was resulting in "premiumisation".

"Australians are spending more on premium products, services and insurance to manage and enhance the wellbeing of their pets," the report states. wrote

"Dogs and cats are much more than mere companions – they have become a part of the family. There has been a marked change in the role dogs and cats play in the household."

Market research company IbisWorld found the pet and pet supply retail industry in Australia has grown by almost 7.5 per cent from 2014 to 2019.  IbisWorld forecasts that growth will continue to 2024 because of an increased trend of pet "humanisation and premiumisation".

"As pets become increasingly humanised, households are spending more money on them in the form of premium food, dietary supplements and vitamins, pet accessories and treats. This has translated into higher expenditure per pet owned as households spend more on premium products and services," the report reads.

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When inner-city café Cuckoo Callay opened its doors six years ago it offered dog owners and their pets a place to stop and rest. Back then, it was the exception co-founder Ibrahim,’Ibby’, Moubadder said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

JUST HAVING MY USUAL SUNDAY MORNING PUPPYCHINO.

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Today, it’s less dog house and more front of house with an increased number of cafes catering for canine customers. For Moubadder, this trend makes it less of a “special marketing strategy” for cafes.

Cuckoo Callay experimented with expanding its menus, but Moubadder said it wasn’t economically viable. Despite the new range, customers continued to order the two most popular items - a puppachino and pupples (housemade maple bacon dog treats).

Even so, Moubadder said they’re not great revenue earners. But he’s happy to continue to do it because it brings joy to dog owners, their furry friends and the café’s staff.

“We never intended to make money from it, but it makes the customers happy,” he said.

“I don’t think people come because of the dog menu. They come because they know they can come and bring their dogs in.”

Sydney dog-friendly cafes

Naked Brew, Erskineville

This cafe offers doggie chinos, smoothies, biscuits and doughnuts, the most popular item.

Storehouse Sydney Rushcutters Bay,

This beautiful cafe offers a four-course ‘dogustation’ menu, complete with pawtien balls and a watermelon chew, has been designed by a dog nutritionist.

Cuckoo Callay, Surry Hills and Newtown

Cuckoo Callay has been catering for dogs (and their owners), providing pupples and puppachino (made with goats milk and crushed liver treats) for nearly six years

Cafe Bones, Leichhardt

Set beside an off-leash area in a beautiful park, Cafe Bones caters for humans and dogs alike. Since about 2013, the cafe has been serving puppaccino, dogaccinos and other tasty treats (including puppy muffins - puffins).

The Carrington, Surry Hills

This pub caters for your furry friend, offering steak and veggies, and beef tartare for $6.