The country was buzzing in December when news broke that a movie theater had opened in Texas that was designed for both humans and dogs.
Located in Plano, K9 Cinemas allows moviegoers to bring up to two puppers to enjoy the show at their side. It’s owned and operated by serial entrepreneur Eric Lankford and his furry best friend, Bear (seriously, he even signed his emails “Eric & Bear”), an Australian Eskimo that inspired the idea. And, if that’s not exciting enough, the Cinema—which bills itself as “the world’s first dog-friendly movie theater”—even serves up free drinks.
Now, Lankford has decided to move into another expanding industry that’s been on pace in North Texas: coworking.
Coming in October, K9 Cinemas’ coworking encourages every patron to bring their pooch. Housed within the theater, the 4,000-square-foot space will offer members a Starbucks drink a day, unlimited access, and free entry to all movies for $99 a month. Lankford says he kept the price low to be a place people want to return to.
He also already has sponsors, like Hollywood Feed and soon-to-be Holiday Inn, so he doesn’t necessarily “need memberships to pay the bills.”
“I started K9 Cinemas as a place to create happiness with other good people,” Lankford told Dallas Innovates. “We are purposely undercutting all other coworking spaces to make us the most fun, affordable, and productive coworking space around I didn’t start this business to get rich, I’ve been there done that with my pharma business. But I do expect to be No. 1.”
Lankford is adding desks to the theater’s seating area and onstage, and is making a private conference room available for reservation. There will be a designated gated area for the pups to play and a courtyard where they can do their business. Lankford says every two hours, there’s a mandatory restroom break to keep the space clean of accidents.
In addition to the Starbucks coffee machine, soft drinks, water, and a full bar of alcohol will be free to use, although he doesn’t expect to serve too many margaritas at 9 a.m.
But, perhaps the most unique amenity for the space, is Lankford himself.
“A friendly yet knowledgeable staff is key, and a common theme among all of our Facebook reviews is how welcome everyone who comes into K9 Cinemas feels when I greet them,” he says. “I will be hiring staff soon, who will have the bar set high to duplicate that same service as I won’t be able to be there 24/7 very long.”
Lankford plans to be a resource for coworking members to bounce ideas off of. He says he’s been self-employed for a decade, so it’s right up his alley to cater to other entrepreneurial professionals. Most recently, he owned Electrophoresis Multiplexing Labs, and before that built a life insurance agency, both of which laid a foundation for these new ventures.
“I’ll be attracting other individuals similar to myself who are self employed, or currently employed chasing a dream to leave their job and start their own business and need an affordable space to call their own while they build their dream,” he says. “Of course, it will be open to anyone who may have a day off and just want a chill place to send emails with their pup that’s out of the house.”
The coworking idea was born when Lankford realized filling the theater every weekday afternoon wasn’t realistic, and knew he had to utilize the space. His trademark attorney, Anjie Vichayanonda, had recently started her own business, and wanted a place to work during the day with her dog.
Lankford says he recognized his concept was missing from the market.
“This model is desperately needed, as some coworking spaces are already dog-friendly around Dallas, but not everyone going there will have their dog with them. This would make a dog owner feel uncomfortable when their pup barks and the person across the room glares at them because not everyone there may be a dog lover,” he says. “Everyone bringing their dog to K9 Cinemas will feel right at home knowing others there will have their dog with them too.”
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