After less than a year serving Frisbees and drinks along Kansas City’s riverfront, Bar K Dog Bar has a treat for two other Midwest markets: plans to expand the premier pet experience space to St. Louis and Oklahoma City.
“Our ultimate goal is to be in five markets in the next three years and 10 markets in the next five years,” said David Hensley, principal at Bar K, a concept that combines a sprawling 2-acre dog park, underutilized land, container storage decor, an on-leash restaurant and bar, and spaces for dog-friendly conferences and meetings.
Click here to read about Startland’s Pet Innovation event last fall at Bar K.
“We’re bringing a completely new model to the table,” he added. “And, you know, this is something that is sometimes tough for people to jump on board with.”
But it hasn’t been a tough sell with investors, Hensley said. In its conception, the startup was funded with personal finances, bank loans, and investments from those who believed in the concept even before the complex at 501 Berkeley Parkway began to take shape, he said.
“It was really a testament to the potential for this business,” Hensley said. “We had people who were very seasoned investors that looked at this and saw an opportunity. We certainly are just incredibly grateful to have had that support this early on.”
— Bar K (@barkdogbar) May 30, 2019
Bar K also has gained the backing of the public’s moral support since its opening in August 2018. The business was awarded 2019 People’s Choice Award in May at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City’s Cornerstone Awards. Hensley was honored to receive the accolade, he said, noting it reflects a citywide interest in innovation-driven business development.
“It speaks a lot to what’s going on in Kansas City, and why businesses are deciding to bring jobs here,” he said of the shift in mentality within Kansas City.
Community building is at the heart of Bar K’s operations, Hensley said, noting new and renewed connections are sparked not only between dogs and their owners, but between perfect strangers who come to the space for a shared experience.
“Two people might talk and find out they rescued a dog from the same rescue, and they’ve got that in common,” he said, describing a potential serendipitous encounter. “So there’s just so many ways that you can connect to somebody through dogs — not to mention, they put a smile on your face.”