CONCORD -- Every dog may have her day, but not at the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar.
Shortly after a customer last month reported finding dog hair on their food and plate at the popular eatery in the Willows Shopping Center, Contra Costa Health Services told the management dogs are no longer allowed on its outdoor dining patio, according to agency spokeswoman Kate Fowlie. Although many restaurants welcome canine companions, state law currently bans non-service animals from restaurant premises, including al fresco dining areas.
"Our mission is to protect the public's health by enforcing food facility health and safety codes that help keep restaurants clean and healthy," Fowlie wrote in an email. "The Lazy Dog management is working with us to ensure their facility meets these requirements."
Health services inspects every eatery in the county several times per year, according to Fowlie. If health inspectors see dogs that aren't service animals anywhere on the premises, the restaurant gets a violation.
"Recently, a ruling has been made that prevents our guests from dining with their dogs on the patio while experiencing our Concord restaurant," Lazy Dog CEO Chris Simms said in an email statement. "We have contacted our county representative and are looking forward to finding a resolution that allows our guests to once again enjoy our patio with their pooches in compliance with health department regulations."
Some local dog lovers aren't just rolling over and accepting that four-legged friends are no longer welcome to dine with them. But by Thursday, fewer than 100 people had signed an online petition urging the county to lift the pooch prohibition at Lazy Dog.
"Barring one single restaurant from offering the same amenity that other restaurants offer is unfair and discriminatory. If the county wishes to draft rules regarding dogs in patio areas, it should do so," the petition says.
Fowlie points out, however, that county supervisors can't enact a policy that undermines existing state law.
But state law may change soon. Under a bill pending in the state Legislature, restaurant owners could voluntarily allow pet dogs on a leash in outdoor dining areas under specific conditions. The bill also gives local governments the authority to adopt an ordinance banning dogs from dining establishments.
"The bill has enjoyed wide bipartisan support from the restaurant industry, health officers and dog lovers throughout California," Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), the bill's sponsor, wrote in an email.
The Assembly has passed the bill, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on it when legislators return from their summer recess next month. If it's approved and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law, dogs could return to the Lazy Dog and other eateries across the state in January.
Cats, however, still would have to stay at home.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.