Downtown restaurant gains approval for dogs on patio

One Trick Pony patio seating

One of the city’s oldest establishments has secured county approval to legally allow dogs on its patio.

Owners Dan Verhil and Lisa Verhil yesterday received a variance from the Kent County Health Department that gives their restaurant, One Trick Pony, at 136 Fulton St. E. in downtown Grand Rapids, legal permission to allow dogs on the patio, according to Dan Verhil today.

Without a variance, dogs are prohibited by the state of Michigan from being on restaurant patios, with the exception of service animals, which are allowed everywhere.

“We had been (allowing) dogs on the patio for three or four years without incident. … But then some customer complained … so the health department followed up and said, ‘You can’t do that. You’ve got to stop doing that. But you can file for a variance, and if you can be granted a variance, you’re legal to do it,’” Dan Verhil said.

Three weeks ago, the couple drafted the variance, paid a $50 fee and worked with the health department to iron out the details. It took effect yesterday.

Dogs are still prohibited inside the restaurant.

“One Trick Pony is the first pet-friendly restaurant in Grand Rapids,” Dan Verhil said. “All the other people that are doing it — and others are — they’re all in non-compliance.”

He said he believes this will be a “groundbreaking” precedent for other local establishments to get variances.

One Trick Pony is a pub-style restaurant located in a building certified as the “oldest continually occupied” place of business in Grand Rapids, with one side built in 1856 and the other in 1885.

The restaurant serves shareables, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, entrees and desserts, along with beer, wine and cocktails.

It often hosts live music shows and private events.

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