No Dogs Allowed In Charlotte Brewery Taprooms, Says Health Department

RealClear Staff


     The Mecklenburg County Health Department has finally put their foot down on allowing four-legged friends in a foam-factory taproom. Suffice to say, Three Spirits Brewery seemed somewhat surprised and sullen over the department’s decision to deter dogs from entering their ale house.

[North Carolina dog owner outside a brewery. | Photo: Daniel Hartis]

“Some not-so-great news for our dog-owning friends at Three Spirits Brewery,” the brewery posted on Facebook. “Effective immediately, we will not be able to allow dogs in the taproom of our brewery. … We still love your dogs, but from now on, they will have to stay on the patio when you come to visit us at Three Spirits.”

The aler elite know it’s not abnormal to see animals in a taproom. But the health department is bounding beer slingers to the same food-service codes as restaurants—i.e., no dogs allowed save service animals.

“It’s something that everybody pretty much thought was OK and have been doing forever,” Three Spirits Brewery-founder Tabu Terrell said. “We’ve never had anyone complain about the dogs to us directly. We didn’t know it was an issue.”

Since Three Spirits featured their Facebook post, their fans have been filling the thread with frustration-fueled comments. Some are even insisting Three Spirits seek clarification—for their furry friends’ sake.

Mecklenburg County Health Department environmental-health-supervisor Lynn Lathan confirmed any food-establishment-permit-toting brewery is banned from opening their doors to animals—save the aforementioned exceptions (re: service animals). However, Three Spirits Brewery and other ale outfits often employ food trucks to supply sustenance to their patrons—no matter. They’re still considered to be food establishments, as employees must wash, rinse and sanitize multi-use glassware.

[Photo: Andrew Dunn]

However, it seems that restaurants and bars permitted as “private clubs” are exempt from the law—as well as other restrictions. The North Carolina Food Code Manual has more information in Section 6-501.115—re: pg. 178. This might mean a Mecklenburg County smackdown on dogs in breweries.

“We don’t send people out looking for animals,” Lathan said. “It’s just another part of the inspection, just as the other things on the sheet are. We don’t have the staff to send them out just looking for animals.” She added they’ll probably be putting together a pamphlet to remind brewers of the dog ban. She also thinks the seasons have something to do with it all. “We believe that a piece of the reason we’re seeing this more now is that it’s become en vogue to have your animal with you all the time and to travel with your animals with you all the time,” Lathan continued. “We’ve had warm weather for so long this year, we believe people are sitting outdoors with their animals, and now that it’s turned cold, people are taking them inside.”

[North Carolina Health Dept. Code Manual, Section 6-501.115]

It’ll be interesting to see the response from Charlotte’s breweries. A lot of local breweries—e.g., NoDa Brewing Co.—get their fair share of furry friends. NoDa President Suzie Ford’s definitely a fan of their four-legged confidants, but she’s awaiting final word from NoDa’s inspector. Until then, she remains upset at the health department for not differentiating breweries from restaurants.

“They don’t understand that we’re a little bit different,” Ford said. “We’re not a bar. We’re not a restaurant. They only have basically their health-code rules, and that’s what they kept trying to put us in.”

If the inspector reinforces and solidifies the no-dogs-in-the-taproom regulation, Ford said NoDa will ultimately comply. Will this effect/affect their customer base?

“We obviously want to follow the rule of the law,” Ford added. “Bottom line: we will comply with the law if she responds back that that is the case.”



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