SARATOGA SPRINGS — Matt Sames thinks it makes sense to open a Pet Lodge with a focus on “doggie daycare” in dog-friendly, walkable Saratoga Springs. And when he stumbled upon some great property, perfect for a little wine bistro, he thought he’d give that a try, too.
The successful businessman opened his first Pet Lodge in 2005 with his partners, Bill Davis and veterinarian Tom Brown. The business offers doggie day care, kitty camp, pet boarding, webcams, and everything possible to assure a safe, healthy, happy experience for pets. Pet Lodge has now grown to five locations: Latham; Glenville; Clifton Park; Plattsburgh; and Williston, Vermont. Sames said he is trying to get approval to build the Pet Lodge near the Hibachi Sushi Bar restaurant on Route 9.
“We started discussions with the City about a year ago,” he said. “It’s going a little slower than we would like, but it seems to be an extremely thorough process. The project currently lies somewhere between the zoning board and the planning board. There are a lot of layers in the planning process, and they won’t meet again until after the holidays.”
Sames said he’s had his eye on that area for years, but his business plan was forestalled when his daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with a rare disease a little over 8 years ago. He turned his attention to fund raising through Hannah’s Hope Fund and hiring a scientific team to come up with treatment, which it looks like they have done.
“We are really ecstatic, it looks like it may be helping her,” said Sames. “It was pretty monumental. One of the doctors said it would take ten years and $10 million to save her, and it ended up 8 years and little less than $8 million. We also treated five other children with the same rare disease.”
All that joy couldn’t help but spill over into his business life, so following his dream to put a Pet Lodge off exit 13N was natural. And then when he discovered the 20 Bowman Street property that is zoned for a restaurant, he thought he could also fulfill his dream of owning a wine bistro.
“It’s going to be small,” he said. “The whole bottom floor will only be 1,500 square feet, including the kitchen and bathroom. It’ll have a robust wine list and small plates, some assorted vodkas and a couple craft brews – we’d like to have some local flavor.”
Sames said they went in front of the planning board, but the vote was tabled when some of the neighbors came out against it.
“I guess they were worried about noise,” said Sames, “but the board members are going to go look at it, and it will be on the agenda again. We’re not going to have outdoor music, and the whole place is only 54 seats. I’ve never seen a raucous wine place, and I don’t intend to be the first.”
Sames said he just really liked the location, and since it’s already zoned for it he thought why not, and he’s already found a great couple to operate the place, but if it falls through, he won’t look elsewhere. His family and Pet Lodge are his priorities. For more information, visit www.petlodges.com.