Cat owners, eat your hearts out.

The Omaha City Council on Tuesday raised the spirits of local dog owners by approving a liquor license for a bar and restaurant connected to a members-only, indoor-outdoor dog park.

Council President Chris Jerram shepherded the measure through a public hearing without a whiff of negativity, saying: “I don’t hear anyone barking.” The council unanimously approved the license.

The Omaha Dog Bar has been doing business around the city since 2018 with “pup-up” events in open commercial bays and by offering dog parks and other services at local events.

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Owner Leah Thrasher, 35, has been hunting for a permanent home for a business centered on allowing people to eat and drink while their dogs socialize with each other.

A key challenge, she told The World-Herald on Tuesday, was finding a big enough commercial space east of 72nd Street with a large plot of green space.

She decided on 1231 S. 14th St., in Omaha’s Little Bohemia, because it has nearly 11,000 square feet of outdoor space and 5,000 square feet indoors.

“It has everything we need,” she said.

The business has already sold nearly 200 annual memberships for an “all-seasons dog park with a bar and restaurant,” she said. It is set to open by the end of May.

At this private club, it’s dogs, not people, that need memberships. Memberships range from $6 a day to $200 a year, with monthly options available. Dogs will need proof of their shots.

People can visit the restaurant or bar without a dog. It’s a place to see and be around dogs and dog lovers, she said.

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Omaha Dog Bar owner Leah Thrasher, 35, with Riloh, left, and Louise. She is opening a bar and restaurant in Little Bohemia that will offer a year-round private dog park where dogs, dog owners and dog lovers can socialize.

The biggest remaining hurdles are the renovations, which the business hopes to begin in January, assuming it can get the necessary permits, lawyer Mike Kelley said.

Thrasher says she has worked with the Douglas County Health Department on how to design the kitchen and drink-pouring spaces to keep pets out, to keep things clean.

There will also be an outdoor patio area so humans can watch their pets play.

Thrasher’s long-term goal is to expand the business into west Omaha, Lincoln and perhaps other states. The reason for her optimism: calls and messages from excited dog owners.

“They don’t have to leave their dogs at home,” she said.


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