The sisters Mariah Harmony and Tania Torres say no matter what they do - no matter the conversation topic, the side project or the family gathering - somehow dogs always return to the center of attention.
“We don’t know how to do anything that’s not dog related,” said Torres.
Now they have a French Quarter restaurant and bar, and it too comes back to dogs.
Tahyo Tavern (1140 Decatur St., 504-301-1991) opened late in 2016 and will mark its grand opening this Friday (Jan. 13). It's a modest corner joint typical of this part of town, with old bones, odd angles and just a handful of tables and a small bar between the weathered brick walls. But Tahyo Tavern is connected to something much bigger.
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From a Ninth Ward warehouse by the Industrial Canal, Villalobos Rescue Center finds new homes for abandoned and abused dogs, especially (though not exclusively) pit bulls. A few miles away in the Quarter, Tahyo Tavern functions as an offshoot of the rescue mission, along with a related retail store a block down the street called the Tahyo, which sells pet-related gifts and supplies.
The family previously ran a bar and event space in Chalmette, also called Tahyo Tavern. But they relocated to the Quarter to be closer to visitors, and to recast the business as a family-friendly eatery. It will soon be dog-friendly too for outdoor visits. By the grand opening, the tavern should have sidewalk tables set up under the overhanging gallery, with water bowls at the ready.
The tavern will even sell non-alcoholic Bowser Beer, a non-alcoholic broth-based concoction created for dogs.
Proceeds from the tavern and store help support the family's animal rescue efforts, and the businesses also serve as a touchpoint for people interested in that work.
“People relate to restaurants for lots of different reasons, and that can go beyond food,” said Harmony. “It can be the setting or the people. Here it’s the dogs. You drink, they eat. That’s our motto.”
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