A new cafe which allows dogs to dine with their owners is set to go down a treat.
Opening today, the Doggie Diner in Middle Street, Blackhall, is the first franchise of a brand hoping to take the UK by storm.
The diner offers a unique experience for dog lovers and their canine companions, allowing the four-legged friends to eat from a special hound menu and socialise with their friends.
The franchise is owned by husband and wife team Sue and David Nelson from Sulgrave in Washington, who will be supported by brand owners Adrienne Dickson and Amanda Wilkinson, from Boldon.
The original Doggie Diner, on Sea Road, Fulwell, which opened in 2015, has since won the Kennel Club award under for being the UK’s most dog-friendly cafe/restaurant.
Ms Dickson, co-manager of the Sunderland cafe, was thrilled that the first franchise was opening.
The 45-year-old said: “The original diner opened in Sunderland 18 months ago and it is a way for people to be able to come and enjoy coffee and cake or sandwiches with their dog inside in the warm.
“After the success we had in Sunderland we decided to trademark the Doggie Diner brand and produce a franchise package.
“The franchises will deliver the same concept but on national level. “Sue and David have purchased the first franchise in Blackhall and we will be mentoring them, but the franchise is owned by them.”
The cafe has been completely renovated, serving the original Doggie Diner hound and human menu, offering delights for owners and their furry companions alike.
Treats for dogs include a Woofin (a muffin) and a Pupcake (cupcake), while owners can enjoy sandwiches and cakes.
Ms Dickson added: “Our unique selling point is the doggie play pen which is a great way for dogs to socialise.
“We decided to franchise after the response we had in Sunderland where we had customers coming in three of four times a week,
“Although this is our first franchise, we have two more in the pipeline for the North East and we are already receiving enquiries from places such as Essex and Brighton.”
Mrs Nelson, 57, a former nurse and husband Dave, 57, who former Sainsbury’s worker, was thrilled to be taking on the brand, calling it a family affair.
She said: “I am over the moon, it’s all come together really well over the last three to four months.
“David and I had seen other cafes like this on holiday and it was something that we wanted to do, so when David was made redundant and I was looking for another job, we just thought the time was right.
“We have three sons and a daughter who will be helping us out with it and we are very excited.”
The diner will be open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.