Imagine a night with friends in which you can do a beer or wine tasting, order up a cheese and meat plate and at the same time have your dog frolic about, expending all their energy. Or a morning that lets you bring your dog in for a day of play while waiting out traffic with a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich, watching your pup run around before heading into the office.
Both of these scenarios are now possible through Alexandria’s newly opened Wag and Brew.
Jeff McDonald, who was in the construction business, was tired of getting up in the mornings, waiting in line for 15 minutes to drop off his dog at doggy day care and leaving to get coffee before work. “There has to be something better than this,” he recalls thinking.
McDonald took matters into his own hands by creating a space where dogs are happy, cared for and where their human friends can relax. “I wasn’t overly satisfied with the places I was going for doggy day care,” he says. “I wanted to make something more customer-friendly, as well as have a place for the dogs to run around and feel like they are outside.”
He opened Wag and Brew earlier this year and is continuing to build his business.
Walk into Wag and Brew and the first thing you notice is the dog play space on display. Simulating being outdoors, the walls are covered in a forest mural and the ground is covered in turf. Agility obstacles are dispersed throughout, offering pups a chance to test out their skills.
The 4,000-square foot play area is divided into large and small dog sections, where trained handlers watch over them throughout the day. There is an outdoor area for some fresh air, plus dog wash stations for either self-wash or pay-to-wash. Wag and Brew has 24 overnight boarding rooms (no crates) where guests get to use the play space free of charge, and also offers training packages.
This may sound like your typical dog day care or kennel, but McDonald took the concept a step further by bringing in a space for the owners as well: a bar.
In the mornings, order coffee, espresso, pastries or breakfast sandwiches provided by Buzz Bakery. Read the paper or catch up on emails at one of the hightops or a seat at the bar, where you can watch your dog start his or her day through glass walls. In the evenings, partake in one of six beers, (including DC Brau, Old Ox and Port City brewery offerings) or six wine selections while nibbling on a meat and cheese plate.
And this is just the start. As McDonald moves forward, he plans to offer programs like special puppy play times and Talk to the Trainer events where dogs play and people meet with a trainer in the bar area to ask them questions.
“It’s a Cheers atmosphere here,” says McDonald, referencing the popular 1980s-’90s show about a beloved neighborhood bar. “It’s a nice neighborhood. Everyone has dogs. Let’s let everyone hang out at the bar, not worry about their dog. Let someone else watch them and you can talk. That was always the dream, to do it all in one.” // 614 S. Pickett St., Alexandria; wagandbrew.com