After visiting a cat cafe with his son, Porter liked the idea of patrons and animals interacting but didn’t think putting more of our feline friends in yet another cafe environment would be super profitable. “Cats don’t really like to be held,” he said. “Then I walked out of there and just thought, what if I could get adoptable rescue dogs in a taproom?”
Porter’s dream became a reality with Fido’s, which will hold its grand opening celebration on February 13 (the bar had a soft opening about two weeks ago). A rescue room attached to the bar hosts 6 or 7 adoptable dogs at all times, and anyone sitting on a barstool can look at them while enjoying a beer.
Porter checked in with Men’s Journal via phone last week to talk about how he’s bringing together beer-loving patrons and dogs and how the whole thing is really about giving back to some local dog-centric charities.
We definitely don’t want people making this big decision after a few beers.
Where exactly did the idea come from?
I had an interest in opening a tap room but wanted it to be something different. It was after I stepped into a cat cafe about three years ago… After seeing all these signs that said “Don’t touch the cats” and don’t do this and that, my son said, “I’m not a marketing major, but I don’t think you should hang all these signs that start with ‘don’t.'” As soon as he said that I thought about the rescue dogs in a tap room. That’d be something!
Tell me about the charity aspect of Fido’s.
I had planned to have the bar set up with an adoptable dog room but then I had coffee with the executive director of Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals [Cathy Nechak] and she explained how that would put me in direct competition with other local charities. They make a significant portion of revenue from adoption fees. During our conversation, my whole business model was shifting in my head, and then she offered to provide the dogs that we would offer for adoption. I then started thinking about how I could operate the bar separately from the adoption room and use it as a source of income for local dog adoptions.
I’m like, man, maybe I can make the entire bar like dogs and charities on steroids and raise money and awareness and tell their story. The people and charities are fascinating and they have the best stories to tell.
How many dogs are in the adoption room at any given time?
Right now we have five—and four of them have been adopted already. They’re all the cutest puppies. We had more come over the weekend and will be trying to keep 6 to 7 dogs in the room at all times.
Can the dogs leave the adoption room or do they stay in there?
As long as they’re medically cleared. The puppies in here were very young and they wanted us to keep them inside for five days. We’re inside a big Walmart parking lot so we can walk them around the edge and there’s a walking trail in some woods right here. They get lots of attention and exercise.
If I were having a beer at the bar, could a dog walk up to me?
No. There are two windows that look into the adoption room from the bar. They’re 12-foot-long windows and you can sit and have a beer and look at the dogs. We charge people to go inside. It’s pretty amazing. Demographics for beer drinkers are 25 to 34, but as I look out at the bar, there’s a couple that might be in their 70s and one in their early 60s. I get people from families with babies to the elderly to everything in between.
Dogs are universal.
When someone wants to go into the room we have these packages. One person by themselves, that’s a stray package. For 30 minutes we charge $4. for 1 hour we charge $7. We show them the charities their donation can go to and they choose which one they’d like it to end up with.
So if someone has a few too many beers, then they’re not going to be able to adopt a dog.
No food or drink inside the room. The charity and I decided no one will be able to adopt a dog on the same day. They need to bring the whole family to see the dog, take some time to think about it, et cetera. We definitely don’t want people making this big decision after a few beers.