The new West Harbor waterfront development at the Port of Los Angeles will get some classy “woof” appeal to go along with the attractions for its two-legged visitors.
Developers have signed a 10-year lease with Bark Social to bring an off-leash dog park — combined with a beer garden, social club and related retail — to the northern end of the 42-acre development along San Pedro’s working waterfront.
Retail Insite represented the Landlord in this transaction.
A combination of a social club and meeting place that’s dog friendly, Bark Social will feature a supervised, membership-only dog park and indoor and outdoor amenities for their owners, including food service and a full bar, said cofounder Luke Silverman.
The space, which will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m., will also offer remote work spaces, Silverman said, along with tables and a covered patio for socializing.
It will be next to the promenade and the port’s main shipping channel as visitors enter West Harbor from downtown to the north of the waterfront space.
It will be the first Bark Social location on the West Coast, with just three others now open or about to open — two in Maryland and a third in Philadelphia that’s set to open this fall. Owners are looking for other California spots as well.
The concept builds on the 20-year-old popularity of off-leash dog parks by tying in related features, such as a dog-friendly bar and beer garden, and a retail store that boasts “swag” for your pups, self-serve dog wash stations and a full canine menu that includes puppy ice cream, popsicles, cupcakes, dog treats and “dog beer.”
Human guests can enjoy free high-speed Wi-Fi, televisions (inside and out) and a climate-controlled clubhouse. For those who get thirsty or a bit peckish, Bark Social also offers a human menu featuring craft beer, cocktails, wine, coffee and snacks.
The dog park itself will be fully supervised by “bark rangers” so owners can do their own thing if they prefer.
Membership dog parks aren’t new and have been used as a way to make sure dogs are all vaccinated and socialized.
Bark Social will offer day passes for those who don’t want to formally become members, Silverman said.
While the company hasn’t figured out how much it will charge in LA, dog owners can try out the Bark Social parks back east for $15 a day on weekends and $10 a day on weekdays, with annual memberships running about $365.
Dogs must be 4 months old and have their shots to enter; dogs older than 12 months must also be spayed or neutered. There are separate areas for large and small dogs and the surface is K9 Grass, an artificial turf made specially for dogs, that will be sanitized daily with a deep-cleaning power wash. Park employees pick up after dogs, watch for problems and play with dogs that are shy while their owners socialize with their fellow humans.
But knowing the devotion of most dog owners, many will likely want to spend much of their time hanging out with their four-legged best friends in the park.
“Angelenos love their dogs and don’t want to always choose between joining friends for a beer and spending time with their pet,” said Eric Johnson, president of Jerico Development, one of the West Harbor developers. “By opening Bark Social at West Harbor, we are creating a space with waterfront views where everyone feels comfortable socializing, whether you drink from a pint glass, coffee mug or water bowl.”
Silverman, a former LA resident who has worked in reality television shows such as “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “American Idol,” grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and New York City but has lived all over the country, including in Manhattan Beach and Los Feliz.
He was inspired to start Bark Social with business partner Jeff Kurtzman after visiting a dog park and bar in Austin, Texas.
“Bark Social was creating a social club,” Silverman said, “a meeting place and a community for people who either have a dog or love dogs.”
Aiming to expand, Bark Social has raised more than $5.83 million in funding from multiple investors.
“It just clicked with us right away,” said Lauren Johnson, a San Pedro native who now lives in Silver Lake and does marketing for West Harbor.
She traveled east to check out the parks for a first-hand review. Her own dog, Joan, will love it, Johnson said.
“We thought it would be perfect for ‘North Park,’ she said. “It’s our big open space that’s adjacent to the community.”
The eastern versions have proven popular, Silverman said.
At the Baltimore Bark Social, Silverman said, singles nights draw 200 to 250 people, he said. Other features include contests, Pride celebrations, drag shows, birthday parties (“for both dogs and humans”), engagement parties and baby showers.
“The space is very flexible so we can do a lot of different things,” said Silverman, whose dog Frankie serves as the venue’s official mascot.
And while the dogs may not appreciate the Port of LA’s water views, their owners likely will.
Bark Social brings in a mix of people, Silverman said, adding that in Bethesda, it is not unusual to see an ambassador, politician and professional athlete in conversation with each other — and getting along just fine.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “dogs are kind of the great neutralizers.”