Like most people, my first word started with “d.” But to my dad’s dismay, he wasn’t the one I was excitedly babbling about. It was aimed at my mom’s other true love: Winston. Our English Springer Spaniel. That’s right. My first word was “dog.”
While I’ve said plenty about plenty of things since that day, I’d venture a guess that a strong majority has revolved around my continued affection for canines. And, not to brag or anything, but I’ve also managed to pet my fair share—from sandy pups lounging behind their owner’s beach chairs at sea level to some particularly athletic pooches I met on summits at 14,000 feet just last week.
So, will you trust me when I say there’s nothing I want more than for you to be able to bring your four-legged friend with you all over Franklin? After all, that’s where I live, and maybe we’ll run into each other.
That’s right, no tucked tails next time you head out for a meal—snap on that leash and bound over to one of these dog-friendly spots.
Noses are sure to be twitching as you approach McEwen Northside. The smells of burgers, waffle cones, coffee, and bread waft down side streets, pulling you toward the bustling square like someone just saw a squirrel. Many of those tantalizing scents emanate from the up-and-coming area’s patios (and inspire an excited bark or two).
In a back corner, the newly opened Neighbors bar boasts an elevated deck lined with four-person tables, plus artificial grass perfect to flop contentedly onto—that is, until your nachos appear, at which point begging may ensue. Its draft beer menu features IPAs, lagers, ciders, and more. A squat water cooler and bowls sit near the entrance, satiating the other part of your party.
On the opposite end of the square, pasta eaters and their pets can relax among the ample seating under North Italia’s black and white striped awnings. Indie music plays, and fans work busily as patrons hang out, chatting over to-go boxes and another glass of red. If you find yourself seated along the side of the restaurant, out of the larger awning’s reach, Fido will be just fine—umbrellas stand ready to provide shade too.
Across the small street, you’ll find Vintage Vine 100—another incentive for vino-lovers, and the dogs who love them, to hurry to McEwen Northside. A fenced-in patio borders the upscale wine bar. Low tables and white-cushioned chairs are suited for the most well-behaved pups, and higher tables are suited for those more easily tempted by hummus, bruschetta, and charcuterie. (Who can blame them? I know where I’d have to sit.)
Sometimes it can feel like finding a stretch of pet-friendly patios is as hard as hunting lizards.
If this feels like a very specific example, it is. I’ve spent a significant amount of time watching Rooster, my boyfriend’s dog, attempt this. And if the lack of fur on his snout from scootching it continuously along the back deck is any indication, it takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication.
Thankfully, we’ve got Camden Commons, which is home to three dog-friendly restaurants. So, there’s no need to break out the stop-sliding-your-nose-on-the-deck cone—not for dining-related reasons anyway. Unless you count lizards as dinner, which I do not.
Two of the three businesses share a spacious, flower-box-lined patio perfect for lounging together on mild summer days. Dark tables with turquoise umbrellas monopolize Sopapillas’ half, while gray tables and bright green umbrellas mark Franklin Burger Company’s. Grab a Chicken Fried Chicken taco from Sopapillas or a Blueberry Bacon Burger from Franklin Burger Company (and pack a couple of treats for your furry friend so they don’t feel left out while you chow down).
The third, located around the bend, is Herban Market, which offers a long corridor comprised of wooden tables and chairs. While most are nestled against its tall glass windows and under its beadboard ceilings, the popular organic restaurant has also made use of almost every bit of its sidewalk space. Which comes in handy for groups that include pets because even on a humid, rainy day, you’ll find people stepping outside to meet the rest of their party, frosty cups of water and order numbers in hand, the smell of spices following them out, the soft sound of a guitar in the air.
All Across Town
While the al fresco spots to follow aren’t in close proximity to one another, they’re worth the trips.
Party Fowl in Cool Springs is set among the hustle and bustle of the mall—a fun, red building sticking out among the crowd. Neon signs shine above its patio’s roof, indicating Boozy Slushies, Local Brews, and Nashville Hot Chicken is in store. Chairs with chicken silhouettes prominently displayed fill its patio, a continuation of the restaurant’s poultry theme. Upbeat music and an unintelligible hum of chatter meet you as you draw near the deep patio. And before you’ve even taken your seat, you’ll notice the doggie water bowls bordering the length of the enclosure.
Take one look at Mill Creek Brewing Co.’s Facebook page, and you’ll see they’re about as passionate about pups as we are. Regularly inviting dogs…excuse me…dog owners to make their way to Nolensville, the taproom was an obvious choice for this list. Snag a can of Mill Creek’s seasonal Happiness Double Dry Hopped IPA and settle into one of the equally bright chairs placed outside the massive establishment. Your pup will be just as happy as you are when they’re sprawled out underfoot.
Could we forget Scout’s Pub across from Westhaven Lake? Of course not. Its high-ceilinged porch, surrounded by shrubbery, is an ideal hangout for pets and their humans alike. Enjoy a breeze from the fans spinning lazily overhead as you tuck into a pizza. And be sure to keep an eye out for nods to the pub’s namesake, Scout, who was a very good boy and lent his likeness to their logo.
Don’t let the dog days of summer draw to a close without first spending some time in downtown Franklin.
Start your foray into downtown’s dog-friendly dining scene just off Main Street on Columbia Avenue. Here, you’ll find The Bunganut Pig. A multi-story bar and restaurant with a spacious lawn, it has everything you and your furry friend could ask for when picking a pub to kick back in…err…kick back outside of. Think: a brick patio with umbrella-covered tables, shade trees, live music, lawn games, and grass to roll in. Hopefully, the last item will be most enticing to your dog—not you after you’ve had a few.
Drive a little farther down Columbia Avenue, and Izzy’s Feel Good Food’s outdoor seating, draped with string lights, will catch your eye—and the eye of your four-legged passenger with their head out the window. Picnic tables sit under the covered portion of Izzy’s patio, and striped umbrellas cast shade over the tables in the sun. With a menu ranging from Miso Salmon to Pulled Pork Fries to a Seared Veggie Wrap, every (two-legged) traveler will be able to order something they’ll enjoy al fresco.
If you prefer to hang out in the heart of the city, Triple Crown Bakery’s adorable front yard is the place to be. Laughter tinkles out from inside the little green house where delectable baked goods are being mixed, baked, and frosted. Outside is equally tempting once you’ve reunited with your pooch, sweet in hand. Small circular tables, surrounded by woven chairs, sit on the thin porch, and a couple of picnic tables border the lawn, their fringed umbrellas waving in the wind. If Rover is feeling restless, walk over and sniff around the cute but curious left-hand section of the postage-stamp yard, where a teapot hangs from a dogwood, and a sphinx statue poses.
Once you’ve had your fill, stretch your legs and, more importantly, your patient dining companion’s legs by taking a stroll. As the pilot city for Mars’ Better Cities for Pets program, Franklin is home to tons of dog-friendly businesses you two can wander in and out of.
Water bowls are spread down our sidewalks, doggie bags are readily available for easy cleanup, and stickers on windows indicate whether your pup can join you inside a shop. And if you’re really ready to burn off some of that post-meal energy, drive a few minutes out to the Mars’ sponsored K-9 Korral dog park at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm.
Once you and your dog have traversed every inch of the bucolic four-acre play area, we bet you’ll be consulting this list again. Or maybe you’ll have finally found some lizards. Who knows—anything can happen when you’re with your four-legged friend in Franklin.