Waiter, I'll have what that beagle's having.
That's right, California: You may soon be dining out with more doggies than you can shake a tail at.
Gov. Jerry Brown -- owner of Sutter, California's "first dog" and an adorable Welsh corgi to boot -- has signed into law a bill making it perfectly legal to bring your dog out to dinner with you. (No word yet on whether the governor and Sutter are planning a night out to celebrate.)
Here's the fine print: the dog must remain in an outdoor-dining section, be on a leash, behave, and not be in the same area where food is being prepared.
(Yeah, right. As if some dog's gonna want to be in a place where food's being prepared.)
"I wish everyone 'bone-appetit,'" Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, the Assembly member who championed the bill, said in a statement. On her Facebook page, the lawmaker added: "Amidst all the horrific and depressing news around us, I hope this bill helps make people a little happier, and businesses who wish to accommodate diners with dogs safe from being unnecessarily cited."
The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, should provide some relief to dog lovers statewide, including owners who've been bringing their pets to restaurants for years and patrons who, in the eyes of the law, have been illegally allowing it.
"Hmm," said David Wiesner, chef/owner of Siena Bistro in Willow Glen, who for years has had a very pro-pooch patio policy on Thursday nights. "The law going into effect in January is the law that I thought was already in effect. This won't get me into trouble, will it?"
Wiesner has plenty of company among Californians long under the impression that dining in public with Fido was perfectly kosher. Until recently, according to an employee, the pet-crazy Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in Concord would allow mutts at mealtime until some heartless anti-dog diners complained.
The new law overturns a prohibition on pets at restaurants and allows the practice at the discretion of the business. But it also allows cities and counties to still impose local restrictions on dogs dining out.
Wiesner expects his diners will embrace the new law.
"A lot of people think of dogs as members of their family,'' he says. "So now, if the pets are well-behaved, there's no reason they can't bring them along -- as long as they stay out on the patio."
Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.