A neighborhood bar in the middle of town that has something for everyone.
That’s the goal of Heather Gleason and Dave Garry, owners of Good Dog Bar, a dog-themed venue set to open in Atlantic City’s Chelsea neighborhood in March.
Of course with the name Good Dog – and the nickname “come on.” sit. stay.” – it’s only fitting that the dogs are also welcome to have a good time and enjoy some of the amenities the property has to offer.
The Atlantic Avenue location will be the second for the married couple who are not only bringing their successful business to the coast – the Philadelphia location opened in 2003 – but also moving into the city.
“This will be the Atlantic City version of the Philadelphia bar,” Garry said, as construction sounds echoed through the two-story structure that sits a block from the beach on Atlantic Avenue.
The bar is conveniently located across from 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 lives.
“That’s kind of where the theme comes from, dogs make people happy,” Gleason said.
When complete, the 5,000 square foot space will have 115 seats, 75 tables, two bars and a dog-friendly outdoor area that will accommodate more than 50 humans from man’s best friend. Overlooking the outdoor space is a mural of dogs practicing various Jersey Shore activities — surfing and holding beer mugs — painted by local artist Heather Deegan Hires.
The couple and their two rescue dogs had no intention of calling Atlantic City their furry home, both in business and personally, until friend and developer Pat Fasano purchased the property and tell them, ‘I just bought Good Dog in Atlantic City,'” Garry said.
“He was right, here we are.” It was about five years ago. Garry said that as of now they are renting Fasano’s property with the intention of buying.
They first set foot in the building in July 2020 after it had already been gutted and began to visualize what Good Dog could be.
Traveling back and forth from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, they experienced the value of the area and the hospitality of the people and decided to move from the City of Brotherly Love to their new home in the Lower Section. City Chelsea.
“I was blown away by the reaction from people,” Garry said. “And the pride of the city, they’re happy to see people supporting it with things like, not just opening a bar, but moving at the same time.”
A few of the perks of moving to Atlantic City, besides the three-block walk to the ocean and the one-block walk to the bay, are that it’s only a an hour drive to check out Good Dog in Philadelphia and only a 20 minute walk to the new location.
“There are a lot of things I’m excited about here, but in general, working with everyone at AC has been amazing,” Gleason said.
As the workers moved between the first and second floors, Gleason and Garry talked about the layout of the place and its latest occupant – a swingers club called RolePlay.
What remained were sex swings hanging from the ceiling, a black light room with sayings more appropriate to the Playboy Mansion written on the wall in light pen, and numerous Purell stations.
“They were ahead of the sanitizer game,” Garry said.
A 30-foot bar and a dog-themed ceramic mural, created by MudGirls Studios, highlight the first floor where booths and two-tier tables complement the seating. A large folding window will open to let in light and ocean breezes.
Upstairs you’ll find a slightly shorter bar, pool table, dart board, more seating and another large folding window for the perfect sunset view.
“You can sit here and have a pint and look out the window,” Garry said, as he leaned against the corner of the second-floor bar watching a January thunderstorm.
As for beers to fill those pints, Garry said they would have plenty on tap from local Jersey breweries as well as the usual macro beers including Miller Lite and Coors Light. A craft wine and cocktail program will be available for those not looking for beer.
The menu will be similar to Philadelphia and will include a poke bowl, vegan cheesesteak, short rib grilled cheese and creamy mac and cheese.
“We’re famous for the burger,” Garry explained. The Good Dog Burger is stuffed with Roquefort cheese and topped with caramelized onions on a challah bun and served with homemade fries.
And chef Carolynn Angle, according to Gleason, is chomping at the bit to expand her horizons in Atlantic City with creative seafood specialties.
Adding to the site’s dog-themed vibe are photos of the winners of a dog photo contest. Gleason said the contest is something they’ve been doing since opening the original location where people submit a black and white photo of their pooch. Three winners will be selected and posted for all to see.
“They get big prizes and they get the top three spots on the wall, front and center,” Gleason said.
The competition for the new location will begin in February in preparation for the March opening.
With great food and drink, Gleason and Garry hope Good Dog Bar will be a welcome addition to the industry and community.
Garry said he would like the bar to be a place people will fall in love with and the food will shine – a place to have a beer, have lunch and watch the game.
“You know a little something for everyone.”
Tim Hawk can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.
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