SUAMICO (NBC 26) — For four years, Bark & Brew has been a place where dogs could share treats, and humans could share beers.
“To some people, it started off as a place to bring their dog, socialize the pup and have a drink," said Tara Brunette, owner. "But turned into so much more. They made friends with other customers their dog made friends with other dogs."
Just a few days ago, when new owners bought the entire building, including the space Bark & Brew currently leases, Brunette was told that she had to shut her doors.
“Heartbreaking, shocked, to say the least," said Brunette. “It is more than just a dog bar. It is a part of this community. Even if people haven’t been here, it’s a place for people to go and feel like second home. A lot of rescues and fosters have come in here and have been trained with new good habits and have found their forever homes.”
Bark & Brew will be open four years in November, but the building Bark & Brew is in was purchased by new owners on October 19th. The three new owners plan to open "Buzz Social" on November 19th, which will be a bowling alley and burger bar. Bark & Brew was notified on October 20th that under the new ownership, their lease would not be renewed and they were to be cleared out prior to the new owners opening Buzz Social.
Upon hearing the news, Lesley Wiegel, Brunette's sister, almost immediately launched a GoFundMe to raise $200,000 in order for Brunette to be able to relocate her business.
"What started as a passion for beer and dogs turned into a dream Tara was determined to make come true," Wiegel wrote on the GoFundMe page. "This involved Tara attending classes, presenting to the the State of Wisconsin for approval, working with the health department and Village of Suamico, constructing the current building for approval, gaining financing and endless blood, sweat and tears. All of this was worth it as Tara’s dream came to fruition. Bark & Brew opened it's doors and it immediately became so much more than a dog bar. Bark & Brew quickly became an incredibly special and magical destination that has become a second home to many and continues to bring in new visitors that want to experience it for themselves."
The money raised through this fundraiser will help Tara start again from the beginning with finding a location, construction, equipment, health department and village or city approval and continue to tend to her current financial responsibilities from opening the original Bark & Brew, Wiegel wrote.
"Beyond being a full bar that dogs can bring their humans to, Bark & Brew has become a safe, happy place where puppies grow up, rescue and foster dogs gain confidence and trust," she said. "Siblings reunite, birthday parties are held, foster dogs get to strut their stuff and find their forever home, fundraisers are held and dogs become socialized. The staff at Bark & Brew is second to none and are devoted to each and every pup and have formed some very special connections. Not only the dogs benefit from Bark & Brew , the customers have truly become family. Incredible friendships have been formed and love stories created. Bark & Brew has brought people out of negative places, encouraged acceptance of everyone and brings a smile to all faces. The announcement of Bark & Brew closing has been devastating and heartbreaking for so many reasons. Keeping Bark & Brew alive will truly make a difference in so many lives."
NBC 26 reached out to all three of the new owners of the building and received the following statement:
"Buzz Social is excited to be moving into the old site of the Gutter and Tapped. Unfortunately, Bark and Brew is not a separate business from the rest of the building: it is a set of rooms that are a part of the larger building. This means that it relies on the larger space to fulfill many of its needs. Because of this, having dogs in a shared space that serves food precludes us from having our building insured. They do not have their own beer cooler, so they need to use ours, which would be a violation of liquor licensing upon opening. They don’t have their own bathrooms, so they need to use ours- leaving them unrestricted access at all hours to our entire facility. Because of liquor licensing and their use of the outside space, we are not allowed to have our customers outside at our own building. As a group of people who have owned, run, and had the heartbreak of closing a small family-run business in the past, we feel for Tara and her team as she is now facing a major change. This has nothing to do with Tara or Bark and Brew. We are just trying to bring back a vacant family entertainment facility to the Green Bay Area that will be a needed energetic destination for leagues, fundraisers, social gatherings and youth bowling. We wish the best for her, but this business can’t coexist in the same building. We hope to be able to collaborate with her to make the transition as smooth as possible for her as she finds a new home! We hope that the community will come in to meet us for themselves and we would love to get to know our neighbors before any assumptions are made. Please join us Nov 19 and find out for yourselves!"
Bark & Brew's last day open will be November 7th. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Brunette and her staff will be celebrating the dog bar's four year anniversary.
You can donate to the GoFundMe here.