A new cafe in California doubles as a haven for rescue dogs and for coffee lovers who might be in the market for a canine companion.
Touted as the first business of its kind in America, The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles serves as a sort of halfway house where shelter dogs can revel in the attention of customers and potentially find a forever home.
The Dog Cafe opened its doors a few months ago, owner Sarah Wolfgang told InsideEdition.com. She's used the time to work out the kinks of the unique business before an official grand opening in April.
Wolfgang decided to open the shop after working with animals for over 15 years, mostly in her native Korea where such establishments are commonplace.
But Wolfgang said the Korean cafes mostly purchase dogs from puppy mills, after which the dogs must live out their lives in the cafes as a source of entertainment for customers.
"I wanted to do something better for the dogs," Wolfgang said.
So after moving to Los Angeles and getting her feet wet in the restaurant industry in order to learn the ropes, Wolfgang opened The Dog Cafe in February.
Most of the cafe's dogs come from a shelter in South LA where staff choose dogs that might benefit the most from human interaction to send to Wolfgang.
Often those dogs are the shy or abused animals that don't excitedly greet potential adopters and are more likely to be passed by.
"We want to love them to the point where they start trusting people again," Wolfgang said.
The Dog Cafe is actually two separate establishments--one is a cafe where customers order specialty dog-safe coffees and teas and the other is the lounge where customers are free to interact with the animals after signing a waiver and paying a fee.
Wolfgang describes her venture as "like a cool community center" that's "part coffee shop and part dog lounge."
"Dogs pretty much run the dog lounge," Wolfgang said. "Customers are just guests."
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Temporary guests, the entrepreneur hopes. Since her soft opening, three of her dogs have "found their perfect forever homes," Wolfgang said.
On April 7, when the full range of services and offerings are rolled out, Wolfgang hopes to expand on those successes.
Wolfgang said the atmosphere and range of specialty drinks will be enough to attract people to The Dog Cafe, but she hopes its higher purpose--and a whole lot of cuddly companions--will also bring out animal lovers who want to help.
"Above all we want to showcase our dogs so they can find their forever homes," Wolfgang said.
The dog cafe holds its grand opening on April 7.