Cafe welcomes four-legged clientele

William’s Coffee Pub at the Harbourfront centre allows two kinds of species on its premises.

Of course, humans regularly visit the pub. But the other species might be a bit of a surprise. The pub allows dogs indoors.

Of 16,000 restaurants in Toronto, William’s Coffee Pub at Harbourfront is the only establishment that allows pets in the dining area. In collaboration with the Purina PetCare Legacy Project—a dog museum in the same building—Purina and William’s have created what they call a pet-friendly location.

William’s supervisor Emery Hall says that regardless of the kind of pet, William’s welcomes both human coffee-drinkers and their four-legged friends.

“You can bring all pets in, but we haven’t had anyone bring in their hamster yet,” Hall said. “Our customers love it here; they love coming in with their dogs.”

William’s is careful about how pets interact while inside the pub. Signs advise customers to keep their pets leashed. Pets are also forbidden to sit on top of any furniture or tables.

Ingrid Holanda, general manager of William’s, says other rules are in place to ensure health safety.

“There’s actually a barrier between the dining area and our coffee shop, so the dogs can stay behind that barrier,” Holanda said. “But they can’t pass that barrier. That’s the agreement with the health inspector.”

The barrier may physically block pets from wandering near areas where food or cutlery is kept, but some worry about airborne bacteria or allergens carried by the dogs.

Jim Chan, manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Health, says that William’s has agreed to design its kitchen to keep foods protected from such contaminants.

“The whole area inside the [William’s] kitchen is enclosed with a little tiny window where the order comes out,” Chan said. “We look at that as adequate protection of all the food being processed and prepared.”

As soon as any food or cutlery enters the hands of a customer, it then becomes the responsibility of the customer, Chan said. Holanda said that William’s cutlery is unlike other restaurants in Toronto.

“We use disposable cutlery actually,” Holanda said. “We don’t bring back anything that we put in the dining area; everything that goes out never comes back.”

William’s Coffee pub is licensed as a food take-out restaurant. But the dining area is designed to appear as part of the pub. In fact, the dining area is officially part of the Purina dog museum, where pets are permitted.

“Usually it’s just dogs that come here, dogs that live in apartments; so they’re really well-behaved,” Holanda said.