Toowoomba’s newest Cafe 63 at Southtown
One of the things I really like about the UK is the fact that dogs seem to be able to go most places with you, including cafes. Here in Australia, dog friendly cafes are the exception not the rule, if dogs are accepted at cafes, health regulations mean they are restricted to outdoor eating areas, unless they are a certified service/assistance animal, such as a guide dog. Given the rise of the fur baby as child substitute there is a growing demand for dog friendly cafes. I have to confess I see my dog as a valuable member of the family so I enjoy being able to take her out to cafe’s, especially when a cafe stop is often part of the walk routine, but I also have another reason for wanting to take Ada out with me. Socialisation and exposing the dog to as many different experiences as possible is just part of the training that goes into making a good, well behaved family pet but I also have a long term goal of wanting to use Ada as a therapy dog. Assuming she continues to be temperamentally suited to such a task and behaviourally she attains the level of training and obedience necessary, that is not a foregone conclusion, but I am hopeful. We have concluded that Ada definitely has Rhodesian ridgeback in her breeding with the characteristic independence of the ridgeback which does add to the challenge. Ridgebacks are a notoriously independent and sensitive dog which can make them a bit of a challenge in regards to obedience, but so far so good.
Ada is a few days short of six months of age at the moment and while recall is not good when she is at the off leash dog park, she is making progress. Here she is on her best cafe behaviour when we stopped for breakfast at the new Cafe 63 at Southtown. This is a fantastic location with an extensive deck, perfect if you have a fur baby in the family. Toowoomba residents would remember this location as the site of the old Angel cafe, which was a bit of a local institution for many years. The Angel cafe closed in February last year but the cafe has now re-opened as Toowoomba’s third Cafe 63, serving up the usual and justifiably famous Cafe 63 menu with its extensive all day breakfast options.
While this cafe is not specifically designated as dog friendly we found ourselves welcomed and well catered to. We sat at a table at the front of the deck in order to ensure Ada was out of everyone’s road and not in a position to be tempted to interact with other patrons. She does seem to be making great progress on her behaviour in these situations. I have expected over exuberant puppy behaviour, she absolutely loves people, so I am aware that her curiosity leads her to try and get the attention of others. At the dog park she has been appalling, climbing into the lap of any unsuspecting and unresisting human but when out in more formal situations she seems to appreciate the importance of good behaviour and acts likes the well trained dog we would like her to be. I am not so naive as to expect perfect behaviour at this age but so far she has been doing well.
I always carry a collapsible water bowl in my backpack for Ada, so I set her up beside us with a bowl of water. I try to get her to stay under the table but I settle for anywhere out of the way and quietly sitting. I always carry a bag of treats, the usual dried liver treats, some cooked chicken breast or occasional cheese. Cheese is magic stuff with a puppy and Ada will do anything for cheese, we just have to watch the quantity. The secret to good behaviour is the ready availability of rewards. I know it seems counter intuitive to feed a dog while you are eating but this technique seems to be working well. She has to lie down and stay down and if she stays quietly where she is put she is slipped a small food reward and a pat, particularly if she remains in place when a distraction arrives, like wait staff or another patron sitting at a neighbouring table. Obviously if we don’t get the behaviour there is no reward, the results of this training have been entirely positive so far, we can start to relax and enjoy a coffee or meal. Our first excursion to this cafe was just for a coffee, we wanted to see if they would allow a dog and also begin to introduce Ada to the environment so we could enjoy a longer visit.
This last visit was for breakfast. I ordered poached eggs but had them add sausages to the order, in part to reward the hound with an extra special treat, a sausage was slipped in her direction at the end of our meal. Meal and service was excellent and I was glad to see 63 have started using glass bottles on the table instead of supplying the free plastic bottle of water with every meal and coffee. I love the menu and food at 63 but the use of plastics was a bit of a concern, really nice to see the move to glass bottles. The coffee was great but then it always is. Service was prompt, wait staff at 63 are always lovely. Cafe 63 really is a great place for a weekend breakfast, the extensive menu has something to please everyone and I love how easy they make it to add items to your meal. You can have something really simple or something bigger than Ben Hur if you so desire. You can find vegetarian and vegan options, they also do great fresh juices. This new location also seems more spacious and relaxed than the other two Cafe 63 venues in Toowoomba, it was easy to relax and enjoy leisurely conversation over breakfast. We were enjoying the morning so much we were tempted to order more coffees and stay a bit longer. I can highly recommend Cafe 63 in general but I do absolutely love the new 63 at Southtown, we will definitely be back and I am pretty sure Ada would add Cafe 63 Southtown to the list of tail wagging great cafes, especially after the sausages.