Like a mansion with hidden passageways, BARK, a Rescue Pub, is more than what meets the eye. On first look, there’s a spacious eatery with faux grass, wood paneling, and a bar with more beers on tap than you can count. What you may not see is the attached rescue which houses dogs and cats for adoption.
Husband and wife Josh and Katie Wade have had a love for rescue animals for many years. For Katie, it’s been a lifelong love affair. One fateful day when her grandmother was on her walking route, Katie’s grandmother ran into some friends who had found a stray dog in need of a home. Her grandmother knew just what to do, and soon Katie and her family had a new furry member of their household!
“The love you end up having for an animal like that who comes into your home and becomes a part of your family – it’s indescribable. It’s absolutely amazing. And I think other people who adopt rescue animals know exactly what I mean,” Katie notes.
Katie has had many rescue animals since. While living in Moscow, Idaho, she would take her daughter to visit the Humane Society to snuggle with kittens in their free time. “If we had the space in our house, I’d adopt so many more pets!” Katie laughs.
For Josh, it wasn’t until he became an adult that he started to fall in love with rescue animals. “Growing up, we didn’t have pets in our house, except for maybe a hamster. After I moved into my first apartment as an adult, I remember going to the mall where there was an event with the local shelter and I fell in love with this cat. That cat lived with me for the next 18 years,” Josh shares.
As a serial entrepreneur, Josh recounts when inspiration struck for what would become BARK. One night in November 2019 over drinks with friends, Josh overheard a young man at the end of the bar talking about wanting to open up a brewery with rescue dogs for adoption. Josh slid down to chat with the man and mentioned to him that it might be easier for the man to consider a taphouse with a rescue rather than a brewery.
After that initial conversation, Josh couldn’t stop thinking about a taphouse with an animal rescue. “I was obsessed! We went to Cabo for Christmas and it’s all I could talk about,” Josh laughs. He discovered that the only business like this was Fido’s Taphouse in Tigard, OR.
Shortly after returning from Cabo, Josh and Katie started going to the YMCA to exercise.
“When we’d go to the Y, we’d drive past the building that used to be owned by Blackbird. I saw that it was for rent, and decided to take a tour,” Josh notes.
While on the tour, he learned the history of the building and was struck by the storage space in the back with an entryway separate from the main restaurant. “I could picture it right then. It was a perfect space to have an adoption center where the cats and dogs could be brought in and out without having to go through the restaurant,” Josh recalls.
In January of 2020, Josh met with the marketing director of the Spokane Humane Society to discuss his ideas. Both Katie and Josh had a fondness for the Humane Society and appreciated its longstanding roots in the community. This marked the beginning of two new partnerships: one with the Humane Society and another with a new dog!
Katie notes, “When Josh met with the Humane Society, he asked if they happened to have a goldendoodle for adoption. Turns out they did, and that’s how Bentley joined our family!”
In March of 2020, only 6 months after the initial spark of inspiration for BARK, Josh and Katie signed a lease on the building to bring their idea to life. No sooner had they started making plans for their new space, the world shut down for the COVID19 pandemic. While this was a huge curveball for their new endeavor, Josh and Katie rose to the challenge.
They made whatever improvements they could and were able to start construction on the animal shelter in June of 2020. BARK hired its first staff members in July, restaurant staff in early August, and their soft opening was August 15. In their first 30 days of being open, 100 rescue animals were adopted from the rescue. Despite having to close in November for another shut-down, BARK has beaten the odds and stayed afloat.
“Our mission is dine, drink, and do good. I think that’s what has helped us keep our staff and be so well received by the community despite opening during the pandemic,” Katie says. She shares that since they’ve opened, 978 animals have been adopted and they’ve been able to give $55,000 back to the Humane Society. Their presence in the community has helped Spokane become the third city in the state of Washington to be certified as a Pet-Friendly City.
Josh shares his vision to enhance awareness of their rescue center, as there are times when patrons of the pub are unaware it exists. “Unlike cat cafes, when you have rescue dogs, it is very stressful for the dogs to be in full view of people at all times. We often don’t know their full back story, and they can be easily stressed by seeing too many people at once,” Josh explains.
Katie is hopeful they will celebrate their 1,000th adoption before the end of 2022. “Most of our employees have adopted pets from BARK. My favorite part of my job is receiving a text from our adoption team that one of our animals has been adopted,” Katie says with a smile. For more information, visit their website at www.barkrescuepub.com and follow them on Facebook.