In a city that’s home to over 8 million people and approximately 600,000 dogs, it can often feel as though parks and other outdoor venues are the only place where pooches can play. That’s where Black Lab Cafe comes in.
After the initial grand opening was pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lab Cafe, located on 80th and Amsterdam, is now slated to open in the beginning of March 2022. The cafe’s co-founders, Lise Evans and Kris and Nikolas Powers, are a mother-sons trio and longtime New York residents. Kris Powers, 27, was a hedge fund analyst before deciding to pivot in March of 2020 and start a dog-friendly business with his mother.
“It was my break from the traditional Wall Street, corporate desk job into something much more fun and exciting,” Kris Powers said. “I was very excited by the opportunity to start a business with my mother. We love dogs, and we realized that nothing like this [the dog cafe] exists uptown and something like it should,” Powers added. Inspired by this observation, Evans and her sons decided to make their idea an uptown reality.
Evans’ motivation in dreaming up Black Lab Cafe was catalyzed by spending extensive amounts of time in Central Park with her own two dogs, Daisy and Lola, which are unsurprisingly, black labradors. “It’s a wonderful world out there with thousands of dogs. You see that it’s a whole New York dog community that I didn’t really realize existed until we got our first dog, Daisy.”
For Evans and the Powers brothers, it’s all about family, especially when it comes to their canine companions. That’s why, in addition to bringing the cafe to the Upper West Side, they have launched their own dog food brand.
“For a long time, we were just feeding Daisy regular kibble. But then we learned more about fresh food — Daisy is a part of our own family, and we were feeding her the equivalent of a fast food diet with kibble,” Powers noted. “We wanted to give her the best diet possible, which is when we started talking with veterinarians and formulators to create a fresh, gourmet dog food in the cafe, for sale.”
In addition to dog food, the “human cafe” will have light fare — from salads and sandwiches to fresh juices and smoothies — with a menu that Powers says will feature “simple, good ingredients.”
Aside from food, Evans and Powers envision the cafe as a future event space, where dog owners can hold birthday parties for their pets, and veterinarians and other animal experts can come speak. “We are so excited to engage the New York dog community with this space,” Powers said.
Despite some intermittent discouragement because of the delayed opening, Evans and her sons are eager to share Black Lab Cafe with New Yorkers and their dogs this spring. “The passion for doing this is huge,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful world out there with thousands of dogs. You see that it’s a whole New York dog community that I didn’t really realize existed until we got our first dog, Daisy.” Lise Evans, co-founder of Black Lab Cafe