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Dog days end at Lenny’s Hideaway

A Raleigh restaurant that had become a Sunday favorite with dog owners has been asked to cease permitting four-legged clientele.

For three months of Sundays, Lenny’s Hideaway had welcomed dogs — but Super Bowl Sunday was the last chance for dogs to have their day.

Owner Ed Schultz, at the request of county health inspectors, declared Sunday would be his last pet-friendly day. He says his plan to allow dogs on Sundays was originally OK’ed by the health department.

Schultz, who named his sports bar for his late father, started the Sunday custom as a way to spend more time with his basset hound, Miss Chief (pronounced mischief). His friends from the Millbrook Dog Park were soon followed by others eager to let their dogs play while they watched football and ate burgers.

The dog crowd quickly came to dominate Sundays. On his last dog-friendly Sunday, only a handful of patrons came without dogs. The dogs, according to an account in the Raleigh News & Observer, had the run of the place — “roughhousing, lapping up water and stepping outside to the grassy outdoor dining area turned doggie bathroom. Every so often, a sudden bark would spawn a round of responses. Only once during Sunday’s lunch did two dogs face off with snarls.”

Sanitation rules prohibit animals in restaurants, said Andre Pierce, director of environmental health and safety for Wake County. But Schultz says that’s not what the inspector who signed off on the restaurant’s opening said. He said she OK’d the idea, even checking with her supervisor and suggesting that water bowls used for dogs not be used to prepare food.

Schultz said the county called to catch him up on the rules after information in The News & Observer prompted a slew of phone calls — not from irate patrons, but from other restaurant owners who wanted to host dogs, too.