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New Policy to Allow Dog Friendly Spaces at Outdoor Dining Patios and Beer Gardens

Today, Mayor Michelle Wu announced an effort to create dog-friendly spaces at beer gardens and outdoor restaurant patios across Boston.

As Boston continues to become a more family-friendly and dog-friendly city, this new policy from the Inspectional Services Department’s Health Division will allow restaurants to create spaces where dog owners and their pets can be together. All restaurants and beer gardens with outdoor space in Boston can now apply for a “Dog Friendly Spaces” variance, and could be ready to welcome dogs and their owners as soon as June 1 if their application is approved by ISD. 

This policy change is in response to feedback from Boston residents who have expressed interest in having their pets join them at outdoor businesses. Dog Friendly Spaces must be entirely outdoors, and establishments will be required to ensure that no food preparation is conducted in this space. A person who brings a pet dog to an outdoor dining area is responsible for the behavior of that pet dog, and the dog must be on a leash. 

“We’re committed to making Boston a vibrant, family-friendly City, and that means rethinking our outdoor spaces to better build community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Residents and small business owners have been eager for four-legged family members to be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces too, so we’re happy to make this regulatory change allowing dogs on outdoor patios and beer gardens.”

“Creating these safe and sanitary dog friendly spaces is an exciting opportunity for both businesses and dog owners. The interest for such an environment has been growing, so being able to create a new policy to accommodate all interested parties is great,” said Inspectional Services Department Commissioner Sean Lydon.

“This policy change will help us advance Mayor Wu’s vision of a city that supports its small businesses, turns our neighborhoods into destinations, and creates opportunities for more residents to engage each other later into the night,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “I am grateful to the community members who shared feedback leading to this policy change, and to our partners in ISD for setting requirements that keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy while establishing a welcoming environment for our residents and visitors by allowing dog friendly spaces.”

Food service establishments must fill out an application, now available here, and receive a variance from Boston Inspectional Services Department prior to permitting patrons’ dogs on the premises. Applications will be processed as they come in. Once approved by ISD, restaurants and beer gardens can begin allowing dogs and their owners starting June 1, 2023. 

"We're thrilled about the City's decision to welcome dogs in beer gardens and Aeronaut Allston is eager to embrace this policy change. Our passion for cultivating an engaging community space in Allston is only enhanced by the opportunity to include our guests' furry friends,” said Ronn Friedlander, Cofounder of Aeronaut Brewing Co. “In recent years it has been disappointing to have to turn away customers who showed up with their dogs. This summer, thanks to this new policy, we're excited to welcome dogs and their owners for live music, craft beer, food trucks, and the return of the much-loved Wall of Woof doggy photo display!"

"It means a lot to me to know that the city listened when I pointed out how upsetting it was that we created a new dog park, but still didn’t allow dogs in beer gardens or outdoor establishments in Boston,” said Laura Jillian Gray, an Allston resident. “It broke my heart to have to travel to nearby towns that were dog-friendly, because I didn't feel welcome in my own neighborhood. With this new change to allow dogs, I can't wait to enjoy this summer in Allston again!"

Inspectional Services Health Inspectors will provide outreach via handouts and host an online informational seminar on May 15, 2023 to help restaurants understand the requirements and rules of the new variance (details on the information session will be posted here). Restaurants looking to obtain a variance must adhere to all requirements. Failure to comply may result in a violation or revocation of the waiver.  Email questions to the Health Division at isdhealth@boston.gov or call at 617-635-5326.

About Inspectional Services

The Inspectional Services Department administers and enforces building, housing, health, sanitation, and safety regulations mandated by City and State governments.

We are made up of five regulatory divisions. Our goal is to protect and improve the quality of life for all Boston residents. Our mission is to serve the public by protecting the health, safety, and environmental stability of Boston's business and residential communities. Learn about our work.

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