By Lisa Kava
The Upper West Side has long been home to outdoor dog runs and indoor play spaces for children. But there’s a new business coming that mixes both of those ideas, plus a little something extra — coffee.
Black Lab Café, expected to open at 80th and Amsterdam in March 2022, will have two sections — a hangout space for dogs where they can roam off leash, and a hangout section for humans where they can drink coffee and eat sandwiches.
Kris Powers, 27, his brother Nik Powers, 29, along with their mom, Lise Evans have been busy working, getting ready to turn their idea into a reality. The café will affectionately be named after the family’s two black labs, Daisy, 5, and Lola, 1, who rotate between Kris, Nik and Lise’s homes. The legal name of the family’s company is Black Lab Coffee. “We discovered five years ago how amazing the dog community in NYC is,” Lise told West Side Rag on a zoom interview. “We wanted to create a dog friendly café, a sort of community center for dog owners.”
Black Lab Café will be divided into two distinct areas. On one side, people can sit at tables, and order pastries, salads, soups, and sandwiches. The other side will consist of an open space for dogs to play and socialize. “It will have a stone floor, small tables and chairs around the sides of the room where their owners may sit,” Lise said.
The two sections will be separated by a glass and metal partition running from floor to ceiling. Dogs will be able to roam and play off leash, just like in a dog park, but must be supervised by their owner at all times. “It will not be a drop off or day care,” Nik said. “There will be house rules, and employees making sure people are following the rules,” Kris said. The dog area will be complete with dog treats and toys for sale, and possibly a photo booth.
Kris, Nik and Lise plan to hold events in the space. such as “a grooming event for poodles, and discussions with experts about training and dog health.” The 500 square foot space will be available to rent for dog birthday parties. Details, such as a possible limit on the number of dogs in the space, and if dogs will be allowed to eat in the space, are still being figured out. “We love the idea of allowing dogs to eat in the café like a dog restaurant, however we are concerned about dogs becoming territorial over food,” Kris said.
Kris, Nik and Lise are co-founders of the Clean Bowl Club NYC, a local fresh cooked dog food company with a subscription delivery service. The food, which is currently prepared in a kitchen downtown by a chef named Anthony, will eventually be made and sold inside the Black Lab Café. The delivery service will continue.
Working in a family business is not new to Lise, who was raised in Norway where her parents owned clothing stores. “We all worked together and helped each other, everybody had to do everything. Now it’s a huge treat to work with my sons.” Kris had previously worked in the financial services industry, while Nik worked in advertising. Both brothers were looking to make a change. “The opportunity to do something entrepreneurial and fun with dogs was enticing,” Kris said.
The lease at 420 Amsterdam Avenue, was signed in May 2021. “The location, particularly on a corner is perfect,” said Kris, “but the space needs a lot of work.” It was formerly occupied by Olma Restaurant and Bar, which closed at the end of 2019.