In summer and fall, there are plenty of places suitable for dog-friendly outings. But as the weather turns cold, so do the options.
Now there's the recently opened Brew Park, the state's first combination indoor dog park, restaurant, pet retreat and veterinary hospital. It's the brainchild of Dr. Angela Woodward, a Plymouth veterinarian with big ideas.
"I did always have the idea of having a one-stop shop for pet owners, but it was during the pandemic that I thought it could actually come to fruition," she said.
And it did, all 22,000 square feet of it.
About a year ago, Woodward and her practice, Vet Partners Pet Hospital, were down the road in an 1,800-square-foot space, bursting at the seams. When they started looking for a bigger facility, she sought out spaces with the idea that they would expand the hospital — it's now 11,000 square feet — but also do something fun for pet owners and dog lovers.
That something fun includes a pet retreat, which has the dog park, grooming, boarding, day care, training, a boutique — and a bar and restaurant.
"This is a place where the dogs can actually come and have their own space and play," Woodward said. "After the pandemic, after everyone had been cooped up, dogs have separation anxiety, and people feel bad about leaving them to go out. Now they don't have to choose."
Walking into the Brew Park (the hospital entrance is separate), the dog park is front and center. The space, designed by RSP Architects in Minneapolis, is modeled after New York's Central Park, but with big-screen TVs. There's a 5,000-square-foot expanse of green turf, with benches, play structures and a photo booth. Dogs play under the supervision of the Park Rangers on duty; pet owners are welcome to play, too. There are strict rules for both (see box).
The restaurant and bar, called the Barkery, sit adjacent to the dog park and feature big windows that look into the park. Watchful eyes — dog and human — are on both sides. There are plenty of tables and a bar, and Wi-Fi and meeting space to court midday visitors who need to work or to pass time while a pet is at the groomer. Ordering is done by QR code, and text notifications are sent when the food is ready, a handy feature if you're waiting at the hospital next door. Dog puns are a given — everything is under one "woof" and there will be "tail-gating" parties.
Woodward, who loves to travel and says she likes to think of herself as a foodie, said she knew what she wanted in a restaurant: "We've taken ideas from our taste buds, travel experiences and a year's worth of Pinterest and said, 'Hey, let's create a fun small-plate menu.'"
The menu also was designed to work with the liquor license, which is beer and wine only, and suitable for football-watching parties (Woodward is a big fan). There's an apple mustard brat, flatbreads, a charcuterie board and several sandwiches, as well as a handful of starters. Desserts, pastries and a weekend-only brunch round out the menu, which was developed by chefs from US Foods.
"Kind of like an architect drawing your vision or designer doing the aesthetics, the chefs came in and looked at what we wanted and then they put all the ingredients together," she said. "And they nailed it."
After a busy stretch of tastings, zoning requirements and decision-making, Woodward is easing back into her day job, confident that the Brew Park, which has grown to more than 50 employees across the board, is in good hands.
"I have great leadership in place ... so I've become the master of delegation to make it all happen," she said.
Her mornings are spent in surgery — the U of M-trained veterinarian calls the surgical suite her "happy place" — and afternoons are spent doing administrative work and pitching in wherever she's needed.
"It is super fun to see it all come to fruition," Woodward said. "With great risk comes great reward, isn't that what they say? So it was a little challenging and daunting, but the way it's come out — we couldn't have asked for better results."
Going to the Brew Park
Location: 2605 Fernbrook Lane N., Suite J, Plymouth; 763-337-4433, brewparkplymouth.com.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.
Cost: Humans are free; dogs pay $15. Monthly and annual passes are available, too.
Rules for dogs: Register dogs online in advance, and dogs need to be 4 months old to play. Vaccinations and flea prevention must be current, and dogs older than 8 months must be spayed/neutered.
Rules for people: Kids 13 and under aren't allowed in the dog park; drinks are allowed in the park, but food isn't. Be sure to read up on the park rules to avoid any surprises for both pets and people.