My dog loves going to the bar. As summer draws to a close, it seems like a good idea to let him go out with his friends a time or two before the cold and the Denver health inspectors limit his options when it comes to nightlife. The recent crackdown on dogs in breweries by the City and County of Denver might have him at home more often this fall and winter than in years past.
So it was off to the Watering Bowl for my dog, two of his best friends and dog roommates — oh, and also my roommate and me. Every time I've set foot in the establishment, the patio has been packed full of dogs and their humans, and a recent Monday night was no exception. The fenced AstroTurf wonderland for dogs features a kiddie pool, picnic tables, couches and lounge chairs, a Colorado dog-themed mural and tons of new furry friends. It's basically a dog park where you can also have a beer and a burger.
Which is kind of the point, according to owner Justin Henry. Henry worked for years in corporate finance, and was always having to cut happy hour short to go home and feed his two dogs. So he figured he probably wasn't the only one who wished he could have it all, doggy time and drinking time. He spent three and a half years creating a business plan to bring his dog-bar brainchild to fruition, and finally opened the Watering Bowl in 2013.
Henry secured the location, which had most recently been a warehouse and seasonal Halloween store, at Leetsdale and Hudson Street in Glendale and built it into a bar, adding bathrooms, the bar, all the furniture, and the impressive dog patio surrounded by fences. The building suggests a ’70s-era ski chalet or church, with huge windows and an A-frame roof. The indoor area is two stories and includes a thirty-foot TV setup, seating on both levels, Ping-Pong and a jukebox. While my friend and I explored the indoor portion of the bar, my dog and his tiny dog friends kept trying to squeeze under the fence and follow us inside. We spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to assure them that we would be right back and to go outside and play. So, as happens with many of our fellow dog owners, our indoor time was fairly brief.
However, I learned from Henry that there's much more to the Watering Bowl than summertime dog parties. About half of the bar's business actually comes from event rentals, where the bar space is transformed to host corporate events, weddings, quinceañeras and fundraisers. Aside from that, televised sports are a big draw, with UFC fights, and rugby and other games and matches broadcast on the many TVs. Other draws include "Bring your own controller" X-Box competitions on Monday nights, poker and bingo on Tuesdays, open mic or "Mutt Mic" on Wednesdays, and karaoke on Thursday night.
Drink specials for humans include $20 all-you-can-drink wells and domestic drafts from open to close every day and $5 shot-skis, with an impressive array of flavored shot possibilities. Sadly, you need at least three people to successfully down a shot-ski, and it generally doesn't seem like a Monday-night activity, so my friend and I did not take advantage of that option. For you Colorado newbies, a shot-ski combines two of Colorado's favorites pastimes: skiing and drinking. An old ski is fitted with three or more shot glasses attached along its length; with precision and teamwork, you and your friends can each take a shot simultaneously by tipping the ski sideways.
We instead selected tamer — but no less Colorado — craft beers, of which there are several options, as well as the usual macrobrews from Coors and Budweiser. The food menu includes a good variety of the basics: burgers, pretzels, onion rings, fries, pizzas and quesadillas. Our fries attracted a dog named Sadie from the table next to us. "Can Sadie have a fry?" we asked a woman from the group at that table. "Sure!" was her reply, but we soon found out thst she was not actually Sadie's owner. But we did share a fry with Sadie, and after that, the golden retriever continued to sit by our table patiently with sad eyes, hoping for more fries, until her actual owner took her home.
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As the night grew dark, the patio crowd began to thin, but not as much as you might expect. There were still night owls with their night pals hanging out when we left at around 9:30 p.m. So if you and your dog are into the late-night scene, not to worry. There will still be plenty of sporty-looking dudes in their twenties with German shepherds, couples with dreadlocks hanging with their cattle-dog mixes, and forty-something ladies with Yorkies that run around and try to hump all the other dogs, even after dark. Or at least that was the case on this particular Monday. There are plenty of regulars in the patio crowd and indoor crew, Henry tells me, and he prides himself on an environment that is family-friendly and comfortable for single women. I definitely haven't encountered any creepers at the Watering Bowl when I've been there — unless you count Sadie the Golden Retriever creeping up on our fries. There's definitely a sense of camaraderie among the random mix of people and dogs on the patio. After all, there's always something to talk about for dog lovers, even if it's just the common refrain of "What kind of dog is she?"
So if you and your dog are bummed out about the fast-approaching fall chill, take advantage of the last few weeks of summer on the patio at this neighborhood dog park bar.