Both humans and dogs can settle in for some food and drinks at Park-9 Dog Bar in Everett, which is New England's only indoor dog park and bar.

In its first year of operation, Park-9 has attracted a loyal clientele of dog owners who say it offers a unique experience.

Chelsea resident Lindsay Hicks has become a regular, coming with her neighbors and rescue beagle, Petey.

“There's not a lot of indoor spaces for dogs to hang out,” she said. “This is a great way for him to let off some steam and for me to have fun and enjoy my community.”

That love for their pet and sense of community is partly what motivated co-owners Tess Kohanski and Emily Gusse. The couple's golden retriever suffers from exercise induced collapse when it's warm outside. Wanting their dog to have another option to play outside the home, they thought of building a space for dogs and their owners, and together with Kohanski’s brother Chris, they opened the business in a large converted warehouse in April 2023.

“The first year, quite honestly, has been a whirlwind of cocktails and lots of dogtails,” Gusse said, referencing the beverages for dogs they also sell. “I think for us it's really about finding that sense of what makes Park-9 unique and why people want to come back and making sure we’re creating the best experience that we can for folks.”

Park-9 is organized by on- and off-leash zones and offers a full bar, chock full of cocktails one might consider pawesome, like “Bark Side of the Moon,” “Go Fetch” and “Puppy Love.”

Fido can join the festivities as well, with dog beers (sorry puppers, nonalcoholic only) and a dog treat flight available (think of a beer flight but with dog treats). A food truck, Big Pig Barbecue, is parked on-site for patrons to eat in the on-leash zone.

The interior of an indoor dog park, with dogs and people waling around and a tree and string lines hung on it.
The off-leash space at Park-9 in Everett.
Haley Lerner/GBH News

Safety is a priority, Gusse says. There are “park rangers” in the off-leash zones who monitor dog play and are ready to break up any scuffles. Additionally, dogs have entry requirements, such as verifying that vaccines and vet records are up to date.

“We're safer than your average dog park, and we hope to be a little bit happier than your average bar,” Gusse said.

For dog owners, entrance fees are based on a membership model. It costs $45 for a single month, or $460 annually. They also sell day passes, which are $10 Monday to Thursday and $15 Friday to Saturday. Entry without a dog is free.

Park-9 also offers daycare and special events like dog yoga and breed meetups.

Member Bill Carlson said driving from Lexington is worth it for him, especially because of offerings like behavioral training classes and the on-site park rangers.

“It's necessary,” Carlson said. “It's the only indoor place. All winter we survive here. [My bernadoodle] would have been terrible indoors without this.”

He said the behavioral training classes at Park-9 have helped his dogs tremendously, and he loves the barbecue and nonalcoholic drink offerings.

park 9 attendees.jpg
Monica Lee and Erin Birmingham met and became best friends at Park-9.
Haley Lerner/GBH News

Erin Birmingham moved to Everett from Kansas in 2022 with her Chihuahua rat terrier named JC. Park-9 provided her with the community she’d been looking for, and has helped her shy dog socialize as well. Now, she comes multiple times a week.

“Being an adult, making friends is hard,” she said. “Pretty much all the friends I've made since I moved here have all been here because everybody's super friendly. And the staff are super great. Honestly, I love everything about it.”

The safety precautions taken at Park-9 bring Birmingham extra comfort.

“I have a very small dog who is very skittish,” Birmingham said. “So, it's kind of easy for him to get stepped on, run over, if dogs were to get out of hand. He's tiny and I've run into that at other dog parks. Here, they're on top of it. Everything is broken up insanely fast, which I really appreciate.”

Monica Lee, from Malden, is a regular with her Chihuahua named Cami.

“I think it's really nice for your dog to have an equal social life as much as you do, because they stay home when you work. They want to have fun too,” she said.

Business at the bar has been booming, Gusse said, and they might explore opportunities for other locations in New England.

“I think dogs really, honestly, are the great uniter,” Gusse said. “They're the easiest thing to strike up a conversation about. It's so easy to really kind of unite over that common love. And the best part, in my opinion, is that we have all generations coming through here, both dog parents and non-dog parents ... and the dogs really just keep a smile on everyone's face.”