Woof! What a welcome

Published: Nov 20, 2011, 04:13 IST | Fiona Fernandez and Lhendup G Bhutia |

Mumbai is a metro with multiple choices. How then does an establishment cut through the crowd, luring customers to its door? Fiona Fernandez and Lhendup G Bhutia drop by at a few city eateries and stores known as much for their menus and wares as for a four-legged USP

Mumbai is a metro with multiple choices. How then does an establishment cut through the crowd, luring customers to its door? Fiona Fernandez and Lhendup G Bhutia drop by at a few city eateries and stores known as much for their menus and wares as for a four-legged USP

An apple a day �
Apple, the Labrador
At: All-day cafe Gostana, Bandra

In a make-believe dog world, Apple, a one-and-a-half year-old Labrador, would fit into the role of a well-groomed but non-fussy celebrity with elan. She could well play the same part in our world too, at Pali Naka's cosy cafe, Gostana. Animal lover and entrepreneur Arpana Gvalani launched the all-day eatery in August 2009. It's a favourite among Bandraites for its saucer-huge burgers and sodas.

Apple spends her day at Gostana, often playing and mingling with
Pic/ Satyajit Desai

And Apple's entry has only heightened audience interest. "It was love at first sight," recalls Gvalani. "In June 2010, I was looking for a pet, and I heard of a Labrador who was up for adoption. It didn't take long to plumb for the two-and-a-half-month-old pup. She was round and pink. So, I decided to call her Apple."

In between long sips of a tall glass of Pink Lemonade, we realise that if Apple had a song for her, it would have to be Where Everyone Knows My Name. In her trademark non-intrusive manner, Apple mingles with customers, and accepts heavy-duty petting. "Many of our regular customers take Apple for a walk when they have a few minutes to spare. Some of them can't have pets of their own, so they end up spending time with her here."
Gvalani also holds a Breakfast with Pets session once-a-month, where two trainers are invited to educate pet parents about dog care.

For the last 10 years, Maggie, an 11 year-old Golden Retriever, has
been spending all her time at Oak Tree, a designer boutique. Pic/
Suresh KK

Gvalani says Apple has a blast interacting with her new canine friends. "She was brought to the cafe the day we opened, so she is very comfortable around people." With 230 odd friends on her Facebook page, and a Twitter account to boot, Apple's stardom isn't a flash in the pan. For this canine who loves carrots, autorickshaw rides and daily grooming, work and play make for a doggone happy combination.

Anupam Adarsh of Fellas Cafe, with Rottweiler Zeus (left) and
Bullmastiff Hera. Pic/ Satyajit Desai

Visit Apple at:
Gostana, Fatima Villa, 29th Road, Pali Naka, Bandra (W).
Call: 64533359. For offers, follow facebook.com/gostana and twitter.com/gostana

The dog in the bar, RIP
till two months ago, a stray dog called Blackie was a regular sight at Fort's popular bar-cum-cafe, Cafe Universal. The owners who had adopted the stray five years ago, even allowed it to move about in the bar.
Apparently, he was so popular with customers, they didn't mind him loitering near their tables. But Blackie contracted an illness and passed away two months ago. Rustom Dehmiri, the 30 year-old owner of the cafe says, "I want to get another pet. But I was so shattered by Blackie's death, I'm not sure if I'll be able to go through it again."

Of Greek gods and dogs
Zeus and Hera, Rottweiler and Bullmastif
At: Fellas Cafe, Khar
Lineage: German and English. Name origins: Greek. Office: Fellas Cafe. Working hours: 24x7. We couldn't wait to meet Anupam Adarsh's pet duo. But when we got to the six-month-old Khar cafe and restaurant, we nearly walked past Adarsh and his Rottweiler and Bullmastiff friends. Master and pets were glued to a film playing on Adarsh's laptop placed at one of the tables in the cafe's al fresco section.

It was a matter of time before pleasantries were exchanged, and just then, Zeus, the Rottweiler decided to take centrestage. Attitude could have been his middle name. Traditionally kept as guard dogs, Rottweilers don't fall into the friendly category.

But Zeus had other plans. The two-year-old seemed to have mastered the art of playing to the gallery. Five-and-a-half month old Hera though, seemed more keen on indulging in an evening siesta.

"Zeus is quite friendly for a Rottweiler. I've had him since my days in Goa, where I ran a restaurant on Baga Beach. I like being around dogs and decided to take him to work. Hera and he are intelligent watchdogs, and stay here till late at night. They like it here, among customers. My staff is fond of dogs too, so that's a bonus," says the engineer-turned-restaurateur.

Subtlety doesn't seem to be Zeus' strong point, though. By now, he is tugging at our sleeve, demanding his share of TLC. "We maintain high hygiene levels," says Adarsh, when we inquire about the hand sanitisers placed at every glass-topped table. "Besides, the staff has been instructed to ensure customers don't feed Zeus or Hera. Both are well trained, so they never run out of the gate."

Fellas is a sort of detox haven that churns out some of the best calorie-friendly pasta, wraps, sandwiches, shakes, salads and pizzas, but it's the canine celebrities who are just as big a draw.

A bunch of young professionals walk in and make their way to a table beside us. Zeus leaves our side and meanders in search of a new love interest. Hera, still catching her 40 winks, turns over to the other side.
All in a day's work.

Visit zeus and hera at: Fella's Cafe, Ahimsa Marg, 14 A Road, Khar (W). Call: 32267678, or check out their website at http://www.fellasden.com/

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