Barkington Palace opens to dogs next month
Standing on the first of what will be dozens of patches of "pet grass," Renee Sclafani, co-owner of Barkington Palace, gets the warehouse she and partner Linda Webster are moving into ready for opening day. | Ronnie Wachter~Sun-Times Media
THE NEW DOG PARK
Barkington Palace is scheduled to open Sept. 1 at 300 Lexington Drive.
Call Webster at (815) 847-9155 for more information.
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:07PM
If you think your dog deserves a better park experience than the frozen tundra of a Chicagoland winter…if you think your dog does not deserve having to wear that hideous canine sweater your in-laws produced on Christmas morning … Linda Webster and Renee Sclafani think they may have an answer for you.
Sclafani and Webster are co-owners of Barkington Palace, which they say will be a palatial destination for the lucky dogs who get to play or board there. The two friends, who combine to own seven dogs themselves, received permission from the Village Board during their Monday meeting.
“Little did we know it would take us almost a whole year to get the doors open,” but Webster said Tuesday that she and Sclafani were overjoyed at finally working out the details out with the authorities.
Those details included how the traffic and parking of pet owners, and the waste products of the pets, would blend into an established business park. Trustee Jeff Berman complimented the two for sticking through the zoning process.
“There was a lot of give and take, a lot of compromise,” Berman said during Monday’s meeting. “It’s a new concept, and we’d like to see it succeed.”
The concept, Webster said, is to take a dog park and move it indoors, then combine it with pet boarding. The central features of Barkington Palace will be their 4,000-square-foot run-and-play area, most of that covered by an artificial turf that will let canines’ urine flow straight into the sewer grates below.
The business, which will occupy 14,000 square feet in total, will also include a splash pool for dogs who like water and a boarding area with room for an extra 10 cats and 20 other small animals (no birds or lizards). The warehouse and office area the two are leasing had been the home of a flooring company; Sclafani’s husband, a general contractor, is currently taking out walls, pulling up carpet and laying down the pet grass.
The pair hope to open Barkington Palace on Sept. 1.
Webster said the idea came to them in October, when both were trying to think of ways their dogs could enjoy the coming winter.
“There’s nowhere out there for our dogs to go and feel safe,” she said. “What would it take to create a fun-based place for us to take our dogs that would be safe? There really wasn’t any.”
So, the two spent that winter working with village authorities on the concept of a romper room and hotel for pets in a business park. The two sides found solutions for animals’ emergency medical care (in a partnership with a nearby veterinarian) and waste removal (the trash company will make extra pickups, to keep odors from building).
The Palace will also offer grooming services, and tables with wi-fi for owners who want to sit and watch their friends play. However, those who cannot stay can still watch from their computer: security cameras will let owner peer in through the internet.
“Almost like a KinderCare for pets,” Webster said. “They can check in on their babies any time they want.”
With 70,000 licensed dogs in Lake County alone, Webster said she and Sclafani were confident they could reach their capacity of 120. Of course, it also took a while for them to find a building owner willing to give their concept a try.
“It’s a new business, it’s two women starting it up, do you really want to take a risk?” Webster said.
“It will be clean, and no smells,” she added. “We want you to walk in going ‘They have animals in this facility?’”
They will, and Webster said she was confident that she and Sclafani would make plenty of friends out of both their two-legged and four-legged clients.
“It’s a passion,” she said. “Our passion is our four-legged friends, our family members.”