By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 14, 2010 at 5:18 AM

In progressive neighborhoods across the country, like Chicago's Wicker Park, you're likely to see three things on any given spring day: bicycle racks packed with bikes, summer scarves in every color and doggie dishes outside storefronts.

Milwaukee's got it, too. Vintage stores like Brady Street's Dragonfly and Riverwest's ReThreads always leave a bowl of water for their customers' pups to enjoy while they shop. A new business owner in Bayside is taking it one step further, even. He's inviting the dogs right in.

To be fair, his venture, Community Bark, is part dog wash. But the other half of his shop is comprised of a coffee shop called Barker Lounge where customers and their four-legged furry friends can kick back and relax together, and a dog-free grab-and-go coffee bar where customers looking to sip a cup of joe sans Sparky can do so. Both serve Alterra coffee and bakery, Rishi tea and, of course, a plethora of healthy, Wisconsin-made dog treats.

That's right, Community Bark, 326 W. Brown Deer Rd., is dog wash and coffeehouse combo. It's one of the only companies of its kind in the country and founder Andrew Appel is proud of that fact. He's an avid animal lover and activist and although Community Bark has been open since September 2009, he's hosting a huge grand opening party Friday, May 14.

"We've put together an event that will be both extremely fun, and help us in our mission to support the tremendous efforts of the Milwaukee community to find good homes for dogs that need them."

At the Grand Opening, Community Bark is launching a program to benefit the Wisconsin and Ozaukee Humane Societies, as well as dog rescue groups. Beginning May 16, Appel will provide complimentary SelfBark dog washes for all newly adopted dogs from WHS, OHS and local rescues. Those fostering rescue dogs will receive a 50 percent discount.

"As any new dog owner knows, the first few weeks after adopting a dog is critical to establish a loving, caring relationship with your pup, and of course nothing says ‘fresh start' like giving your new dog a bath," he says.

At Community Bark, a SelfBark wash is an easy way to bathe your dog and leave the mess behind. The prices range from $14 to $22, depending on the size of the dog. The FullBark service ($26-$34) has a staff member shampoo, condition, blow dry and brush the dog and takes about an hour. And the ProGroom is a custom-designed package based on your dog's needs. Regardless of the package, however, each bath begins with a complimentary aromatherapeutic, natural and tearless blueberry facial.

The grand opening celebration is a two-day event. Friday, May 14, activities run from 3 to 6 p.m. and include a professional grooming demonstration (4 p.m.), Health Heelers Therapy dog screenings, an "Ask the Trainer" booth with Jen Digate, charcoal pet portraits, All Ears Pet Photography, an animal Communicator, information from ROMP (Residents for Off-leash Milwaukee Parks) and free prizes and giveaways.

The party continues on Saturday, May 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an adoption fair featuring local rescues and the Wisconsin Humane Society, a professional grooming demonstration (12 p.m.), Health Heelers Therapy Dog booth, training and behavior demonstrations with Jen Digate, Isle of Dogs Coat Consultations, dog contests and kids events like face painting and a water balloon toss.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”