Hyunsuk Ku’s cafe in Business Bay is unlike any other in the emirate.
A large neon green sign in the shape of a bone reads “Happy Bark Day”, offering a clue about the clientele it serves.
Ku’s cafe, which opened in December, is the only one in Dubai that is strictly for pets.
She makes treats and other nutritional meals for cats and dogs. While there’s a complimentary, self-service coffee machine, everything else inside the pastel coloured space is for a pet’s enjoyment.
Described as a “premium pet dessert shop”, there are birthday cakes, doughnuts and cupcakes. While they look good enough for a human to eat, they are for cats and dogs only.
Ku, 38, who is from South Korea, says that her home country has many types of healthy dessert shops for pets and that’s where she got the idea from.
She also has a vested interest in pet nutrition after her first dog, Maum, became ill. She decided to take a pet nutrition course to learn more about how to keep her pets happy and healthy before deciding to open the space.
“I’m very passionate about my dogs' nutrition, I think all dog owners wish for their dogs to live as long as possible,” she says.
“As dog owners, we want to go everywhere together. There are many restaurants for humans, but very limited places for dogs. So, I wanted to open a fine dog restaurant for dogs and cats only, so an owner and dog can enjoy together.”
She says the space has an added benefit: she gets to be around her Golden Retrievers Maum, 7, and Sarang, 4, while helping to create treats for other pets.
“I've lived in Dubai since 2008. When I was out working, I always missed my dog, so I wanted to work where I can stay together with my dog,” she says. “Now I am the most happy worker in the world.”
The cafe has a rotating menu of treats prepared daily, with items such as puppacinos — made using a slow broth of oxtail or chicken — and pupcakes made with beef or salmon combined with vegetables, or even tiered trays of treats for afternoon tea.
Dogs sit on high benches, placing their paws on the round, eagerly awaiting their order.
Meals at Happy Bark Day cost between $10 and $20, with cakes made especially for dogs' birthdays costing about $55. But for most pet owners, that is a small price to pay for their happiness.
“With our dog we do lots of activities. We do hiking and go for walks and swimming. But going to a restaurant it's like a unique and novel idea and concept,” owner Nivriti says.
“So definitely something that we wanted to try with her, and she loved it. We keep coming back.”
— With additional reporting by AFP and Reuters