Business going to the dogs and beer - TribPapers

Business going to the dogs and beer

Kendal Kulp (right) and his dad, Kajer Kulp are preparing to open Wagbar in late summer.

Weaverville – In 2016 at Asheville’s Carrier Park, Kendal Kulp had an idea to join his love of dogs and beer. As the afternoon dipped in the dog park, owners were restless to pick up a pint of the city’s famous beer.  “We were watching the dogs run around, and watching all the people just standing there twiddling their thumbs waiting for the dogs to get tired so they can go out to the bars and breweries in Asheville… So I was like, ‘Aha, we need to merge these two things,’” said Kendal.

Asheville has long been home to locals and visitors alike who’s love for breweries rivals only their affection for their furry friends. Kulp wrote down the dog-bar concept, only to revisit the idea nearly four years later. An offhand observation that dog owners are earnestly awaiting the minute when they can hit the breweries turned into a business plan– Wagbar in Weaverville.

Father-son duo Kendal and Kajur Kulp are Weaverville natives and Asheville brew enthusiasts. The Merrimon Avenue location is “the perfect spot” for their dream bar. Just ten minutes from Asheville, they hope that the canine bar entices visitors and locals to connect over their beloved pets.

Kendal founded Wagbar and brought on his father Kajer as an operations manager and partner. “It’s a dream” for Kendal to work alongside his dad. “I’ve just always wanted to work with my dad. I actually kind of started this thing on my own. And more or less than I just realize that he’s the perfect person,” said Kendal. Dad Kajer is parlaying his experience in furniture making as the designer and manage construction of the bar. 

The Kulps hope to make a cultural paw print in the area as the only dog bar. Wagbar boasts a  quarter-acre range for dogs to run, with water features and obstacle courses encouraging play. For their human companions, they are building a bar to serve local beer and a space for relaxing and games. Food trucks will be regularly parked in the lot. 

One of the Kulps’ dogs enjoying the free run in the fenced in area. Photo by Abi Cole.
One of the Kulps’ dogs enjoying the free run in the fenced in area.

The Kulps hope to prevent some of the typical problems and grievances found at public dog parks. “At most dog parks it’s a free for all, there’s no regulation on people being responsible pet owners and there’s no requirement for shots or dogs being spayed and neutered and all of the kinds of things that a responsible dog owner should do. We’re gonna have, you know, a clear set of rules,” says Kendal. Some of these rules include vaccine documentation and barring dogs that demonstrate aggressive behavior. Wagbar will also have an in-house dog trainer. 

Highlighting the need for pet adoption in the area is a cornerstone of Wagbar, says Kendal. He plans to regularly host adoption events for local shelters. Bar-goers will be able to interact and play with rescue dogs in need of a forever home.

Wagbar is scheduled to open in late summer 2020. For now, the Kulps are working to construct the bar and anticipate opening according to COVID-19 restrictions. “It’s going to be an environment where it can be social outdoors and not cooped up in this little bar somewhere. I think people and their dogs are really ready to get out,” remarks Kendal.

“There’s not a good space in Asheville for dogs and owners of dogs to just hang out.” The Kulps at Wagbar are hoping to found an innovative, ‘paw-some’ spot distinct for its individuality from the hundreds of bars in “Beer City”.

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