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Tiny Diner, Where Goat Isn’t on the Menu, It’s in the Parking Lot



Lexi Doersch, who heard about the event via Facebook, balances a goat on her back during Tiny Diners' goat yoga class.

On a beautiful spring day in Minneapolis, a group of us sat patiently on yoga mats inside a tiny pen on Tiny Diner’s parking lot listening to instructions before the goats made their greatly anticipated entrance. 

“Anything you don’t want the goats to have, put outside the fence,” Tracy Becker, the yoga instructor and Goat Shine co-owner, warned. If the goats see it, they’ll think it’s theirs. Which makes sense since they’re the goats, not the yogis. They’re not into enlightenment, just worldly possession of food-like items. 

It was a warm day, so what better to end goat yoga with than a cone filled with goat-milk ice cream from Minnesota Nice Cream. 

Second, and most important: “If they poop on your mat, just turn it over,” she instructed. “If it’s pee, we’ll take it away right away."  No. 1 gets you a mat immediately, No. 2 requires two "accidents."

Suddenly, I felt glad I had forgotten my yoga mat in the car. And since yoga is done barefoot, there should have been a warning about walking between mats, since that’s where it looked like most of the poop landed. 

Goat Yoga is more about the goats than the yoga. The Bartmann Group, which is known for its clever extra-curriculum activities at its nine restaurants, hosted three hour-long classes on June 13 as a ramp-up for its Farmer’s Market in July and August, where the goats will also make an appearance July 18. In addition to conducting a yoga class, Goat Shine sold its high-butterfat goat-milk lotions and soaps, along with Singing Hills Dairy and McCann, which also showcased their products including cheese. Minnesota Nice Cream had a food truck selling goat-milk ice cream, and the restaurant itself sold wine, beer and black-bean burgers with goat cheese. It was a goat-lovers dream, and from the excitement at the classes and from spectators, there are a lot of goat lovers. 

The event doesn't earn the restaurant much ROI, but it does wonders for its good will in the community. "I like to say I work for a for-profit restaurant, but I do the nonprofit part of it," Andrea Eger, program coordinator and farmers' market manager, said. This is the third year the goats have made an appearance, and Eger said, people love the idea of interacting with farm animals, something that's not an every day occurrence for city folks. "It's silly but awesome," she said about the goat yoga. About 300 people attended, many of whom were in it to pet the goats not to do warrior poses. 

You gotta love this sign introducing the tall-drink-of-water bartender selling wine, beer and healthy burgers to the goat yogis. 

Selling drinks outside and having the grill fired up was to take some of the pressure off restaurant staff since, with that kind of influx of people milling around the parking lot, it's sure to overwhelm the staff inside, not to mention the patio on a rare sunny and warm day. And yes, they did see a nice uptick in restaurant sales that day, she added. 

Once the mama and baby Nigerian dwarf goats were ushered into the pen, it was hard to concentrate on a downward dog. For the most part, the goats, who are naturally curious and love attention, just roamed around, occasionally placing their front feet on a seated someone’s shoulders to lick their face or munch on their shirt or cell phone. There were lots of cell phones to choose from because the real goal is to grab a photo of yourself in a yoga pose with a goat. At about 20 minutes into the class, Becker gave up trying to teach us yoga and told us the rest of the time was to enjoy the goats (and take pictures for your social media platforms). Spoiler alert: the photos of the goats on participants backs were staged. 

Surprisingly well behaved, except for that nature-calling thing, the goats are raised to be social with people, Becker told me before class. And the goats actually like taking their show on the road. There’s just one goat in the herd that has to sit out classes, she added, because she likes to eat the yoga mats. 

I could easily become a sports animal with classes like this. I’m just sorry I was out of town when my gym hosted puppy Pilates. 

Sophie Givens poses with one of the baby
Nigerian dwarf goats. 
For the most part, the goats weren’t skittish,
but occasionally they could surprise
.

 

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