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Inspiring Conversations with David Hensley of Bar K

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Hensley. Them and their team share their story with us below:

By total coincidence, Bar K founders Leib Dodell and Dave Hensley adopted puppies on exactly the same day in 2009. The puppies grew up together in Dave’s and Leib’s close circle of friends and their dogs. But they soon realized there were few places where this pack could socialize together. They tried meeting up at dog parks, but the experience was so limited. There were no comfortable places to sit and relax, no place to grab a drink or bite to eat, and no gatekeeper to ensure that the dogs in the park were vaccinated and properly socialized.

Yes, some bars and restaurants allowed dogs on outdoor patios, but then the situation was reversed – the humans had fun, but it wasn’t a good experience for the dogs. They were that weren’t designed for them and often had to share the space with other diners who didn’t particularly welcome them.

Why Leib and Dave wondered, wasn’t anyone creating thoughtfully designed spaces for people and dogs? After all, about 46% of households have dogs,

the pet industry is growing rapidly, and more and more people view their dogs as members of the family. Why were people forced to leave their family members at home in order to socialize with friends?

From this idea, Bar K was born. More than just a dog park, it would be an entire pet-friendly community where people and dogs could co-exist in a fun, entertaining and creative environment. It would offer great food and beverages, support local businesses and causes, embrace socially responsible and sustainable business practices, and provide a safe and joyful experience for people and their dogs.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been multiple challenges mainly revolving around the fact that this is the first of its kind. We are frontiering a new concept so there is no roadmap for how to run this business.

One challenge is the perception that you can’t come to Bar K without a dog. We’ve now overcome that hurdle for the most part.

Covid was a struggle for every hospitality business including ours. We had to shut down for two months.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Bar K?
Bar K is a unique new destination combining a thoughtfully designed, fully-staffed dog park with a modern bar, restaurant and event space. Bar K brings engaged, community-minded people and their dogs together to share connections with their pups and each other in a joyful and creative space. The first Bar K opened in August 2018 on the Riverfront in downtown Kansas City. More locations are planned around the country.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Connecting people and their dogs in an authentic way.


  • Entry is Free for humans, $10-15 for a dog
  • Membership – $225 per year

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