Any place can be improved by the addition of dogs. Your house? Arguably not a home until something enthusiastic and barking lives there. A ski resort? No one who has been buried under an avalanche ever crossed their fingers in hope that a cat would show up. Even hospitals, which are generally pretty concerned about sanitation, will let grinning Labs and goldens inside where they can raise spirits.

In spite of this rule, dogs have been egregiously excluded from restaurants. Go to any steak house, sushi bar, rib joint or taqueria and you will find an appalling lack of dogs. I believe this is unacceptable. Fortunately for the Twin Cities, so does Kevin Knutson. That’s why he and his business partner Sam Carter opened Unleashed Hounds and Hops: a place where dogs can frolic in a year-round playground while their best friends drink beer and eat bar food like Chicago dogs, pupcorn chicken and mini corn dogs (more properly known as “puppers”).

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“Sam and I met while we were working in security and law enforcement for a hospital in St. Paul,” said Kevin. “We were both adopting dogs at the time, and we both felt it was too difficult to find things to do with our dogs. We imagined an indoor dog park, bar and restaurant all rolled into one, and decided we were the ones to create it.

“We couldn’t have done it with out Sam’s mom Dawn Uremovich, who would also become our business partner. She’s a lifelong restauranteur and was eager to help us develop our idea, find a location, and get approval from the City of Minneapolis. That last part was difficult, because we needed two licenses to serve food and liquor and another to run a pet facility.

“It all paid off in the end. Today Unleashed Hounds and Hops offers a great place for you and your dog to make new friends. Unleashed perfectly captures that ‘dog park vibe,’ where people have an easy time striking up organic conversations while their dogs chase each other around in circles. And have plenty of space for it – about 6,000 square feet of indoor off-leash playspace with structures dogs can climb all over, plus an outdoor landscaped area for nicer days.

“We have lots of regulars who come in every day – like Norm, from Cheers, if he was a dog. A couple who met at Unleashed might have their wedding here next summer, circumstances permitting. We also host a lot of rescue events, which are a great way for adoptable dogs to let their personalities shine while we raise money for worthy causes.

“Our kitchen and bar area is separated by a big glass wall for health code reasons. You don’t have to dine with the dogs if you don’t want to, but most people choose to have their food and beverages in the playspace where they can enjoy the show up close.

“We serve elevated bar food: Kramarczuk’s craft sausages with delicious toppings, gourmet chicken sandwiches, and all the shareables that socializing over drinks demands. We’re often told we have the best cheese curds in the Twin Cities, which we beer batter to order and serve with harissa ketchup.

“Are there food thefts? Well, every once in a while a sausage does hit the ground. It sure doesn’t stay there for long, though.

“I’m a big craft beer guy and love the local brewing scene. Everything we pour comes from the Midwest and as close as three blocks away, so it’s always fresh and in season. If you don’t feel like a glass of Surly or Castle Danger, we also have a good selection of canned beers, wines, and non-alcoholic beverages.”

Ready to watch your mutt run themself ragged while you sip lager with fellow dog enthusiasts? Please visit unleashedhoundsandhops.com to register your dog and show they’ve gotten all their shots, and you’ll be all set to let them loose at 200 East Lyndale Ave N in Minneapolis.

Breed Nights

Visit Unleashed on Wednesdays with your dog and spin to win free drinks, pup passes and more!

Drink for Dogs

Arguably the best reason to drink. Visit Unleashed on Thursdays from 4-9pm and 10% of your food and drink purchase will go directly to local rescue and other dog organizations.

 

By David Scheller