A neighborhood bar in the middle of the city that has something for everyone.
That’s the goal for Heather Gleason and Dave Garry, owners of Good Dog Bar, a dog-themed venue that is scheduled to open in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City in March.
Of course with the name Good Dog — and the moniker “come. sit. stay.” — it’s only appropriate that dogs are also invited to have a tail-wagging good time and partake in some of the amenities the establishment has to offer.
The Atlantic Avenue location will be the second for the married couple who are not only bringing their successful business down the Shore — the Philadelphia location open in 2003 — but also moved themselves to the city.
“This one is going to be the Atlantic City version of the bar in Philly,” Garry said, as the sounds of construction echoed through the two-storied structure that is a block off the beach on Atlantic Avenue.
The bar conveniently is located across the street from the grassy O’Donnell Memorial Park, just in case…
Garry said the name Good Dog came from his wife who is obsessed with dogs and the belief that our four-legged friends have such a positive effect on our life.
“That’s kind of where the theme came from, dogs make people happy,” said Gleason.
Once completed the 5,000 square foot space will have 115 seats, 75 tables, two bars and a dog-friendly outside area that will seat more than 50 humans of man’s best friend. Overlooking the outdoor space will be a mural of dogs doing various Jersey Shore activities — surfing and holding mugs of beer — painted by local artist Heather Deegan Hires.
The couple and their two rescue dogs didn’t plan on calling Atlantic City their fur-ever home, both in business and personally, until friend and developer Pat Fasano bought the property and told them ‘‘’I just bought Good Dog in Atlantic City,’” said Garry.
“He was right, here we are.” That was approximately five years ago. Garry said as of now they are leasing the property from Fasano with intent to buy.
They first set foot in the building in July 2020 after it was already gutted, and began to visualize what Good Dog could be.
While going back and forth from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, they experienced the value of the area and the welcoming people and decided to make the move from the City of Brotherly Love to their new home in the Lower Chelsea section of the city.
“I was blown away by the reaction of people,” said Garry. “And the pride in the city, they’re happy to see people back it up with things like, not just opening a bar, but moving down at the same time.”
A few of the benefits to moving to Atlantic City, besides the three-block walk to the ocean and the one block walk to the bay, are it’s only an hour drive to check on Good Dog in Philadelphia and only a 20-minute walk to the new location.
“There’s a lot of things I’m excited about down here but in general, working with everybody in AC has been amazing,” said Gleason.
As workers moved about between the first and second floors, both Gleason and Garry talked about the layout of the venue and its last occupant — a swingers club called RolePlay.
Left behind were sex swings hanging from the ceiling, a blacklight room where written on the wall in glow pen were sayings more suitable for the Playboy Mansion, and a lot of Purell stations.
“They were way ahead on the sanitizer game,” said Garry.
A 30-foot bar and a dog-themed ceramics mural, created by MudGirls Studios, highlight the first floor where booths and two-top tables round out the seating. A large bifold window will open up to let the light and the ocean breeze in.
Upstairs will be a slightly shorter bar, a pool table, a dartboard, more seating and another large bifold window for a perfect view of the sunset.
“You can sit here and have a pint and look out that window,” said Garry, as he leaned against the corner of the second-floor bar watching an incoming January thunderstorm.
As for the beers to fill those pints, Garry said they will have plenty on tap from local Jersey breweries as well as the usual macro beers including Miller Lite and Coors Light. A wine and a craft cocktail program will be available for those not looking for beer.
The menu will be similar to the Philly location and will include a poke bowl, a vegan cheesesteak, short rib grilled cheese and creamy mac & cheese.
“We’re famous for the burger,” explained Garry. The Good Dog Burger is stuffed with Roquefort cheese and topped with caramelized onions on a challah bun and served with house-cut french fries.
And Chef Carolynn Angle, according to Gleason, is champing at the bit to expand her horizons in Atlantic City with creative seafood specials.
Adding to the ambiance of the dog-themed venue will be pictures of the winners of a dog photo contest. Gleason said the contest is something they have been doing since the original location opened where people submit a black and white photo of their pooch. Three winners will be selected and displayed for all to see.
“They get big prizes, and they get the most prominent three spots on the wall, front and center,” Gleason said.
The contest for the new location will begin in February in preparation for the March opening.
With good food and good drinks, both Gleason and Garry hope that Good Dog Bar will be a welcomed addition to the industry and the community.
Garry said he would like the bar to be a place that people will fall in love with and where the food will shine through —a place to have a beer, enjoy lunch and watch the game.
“You know a little something for everybody.”
Tim Hawk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.
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