Mutts Canine Cantina, one of the rare places in North Texas where dogs can run in a park while Mom or Dad sips a cold one, is growing up. Co-founder Kyle Noonan confirms that after launching a Mutts in Uptown Dallas and in Fort Worth, his company has started selling franchises to dog-loving businessowners.
Deals are already signed for three Mutts locations in the Austin area, and Phoenix could be next.
"Mutts has always been designed to be a franchise unit," Noonan says. Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz operate the Rustic and Bowl and Barrel, two entertainment spots created in Dallas that are not set up to be franchises because of the several-million-dollar price tag it costs to start each one.
Mutts, on the other hand, has a smaller cost — more in line with dollar values to franchise a burger joint like Five Guys, Noonan says: $500,000 to $1 million. Mutts is backed by members, who pay $16.95 per month to bring their pups to the park, almost like a gym membership for dogs. Mutts doubles as a bar and casual hangout for dog owners to meet like-minded people. It triples as a restaurant, with a small menu of burgers and sandwiches available out on the deck, where dog lovers can see their pups playing.
Dog treats are for sale, too, for pet owners who want to buy Fido a pupsicle. (You know who you are.)
Noonan says Mutts was designed to be a fairly simple business to operate: The restaurant is a prefab building, similar to two shipping containers already put together, "down to the paper towel dispensers," Noonan says. Franchisees build a deck and put up a fence. The main draw at Mutts is the wide-open spaces, and those require little to no construction.
Both of the existing Mutts dog parks have about 2,000 members each, Noonan says. Mutts goes dog wild on the puns, with Yappy Hours for discounted drinks and full-time Bark Rangers, whose job it is to clean up after the dogs.
Noonan hopes to open about 100 franchises in the next five years in the Sun Belt, which is made up of the southernmost states in the United States. The best locations for an outdoor-only dog park are those with warmer climates and little rain, though cities like Denver are attractive, too, because of the sunny weather, Noonan says.
Noonan is Dad to a 5-month-old English bulldog named Bossy. Dallas' "fur baby" culture among city-dwellers without backyards has, no doubt, helped Mutts become successful. There's even a dog-friendly movie theater in Plano.
"Dogs are part of the family," Noonan says. "It's one of the reasons we started Mutts in the first place."
Company executives hope Austin is a comfortable first step. "Expanding the Mutts pawprint within our home state and to Austin seemed like a no-brainer," says Michelle Boggs, managing partner working on franchise development, in a press release.