Forget a can of Alpo; gourmet grub has gone to the dogs. And plenty of (two-legged) entrepreneurs have taken notice, leaving a trail of haute doggy cuisine eateries—typically a pet retail store/bakery hybrid—in their paths. In honor of National Dog Week (officially September 22nd-28th, but every week in most pooch-loving households), we’re sniffing out 10 of the country’s best gourmet hotspots for your tail-wagging tastemakers.
Website: Three Dog Bakery
A pioneer in the pet bakery business, Three Dog Bakery—with more than two dozen locations nationwide plus outposts in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Hong Kong—has been cooking up fresh, all-natural dog food and treats since 1989. Yet no one Three Dog Bakery is the same, with each location tailor-made to its specific geographic location. In addition to seasonal treats (like a can of perfect-for-fall tomato soup and cheese wafers), Three Dog offers an array of fun gifts for dog lovers (like the Three Dog Bakery cookbook) and even some cat treats. But the ultimate indulgence is a customized cake, perfect—and personalized—for whatever the special occasion.
Website: Woof Gang Bakery
As if the clever name isn’t enough to entice you in the door, Woof Gang’s vast lineup of products (food, clothing, homemade treats and toys) and services (grooming, day care) will drive Fido barking mad with excitement. Founded in Jupiter, Florida in 2007, the company anticipates a total of 43 locations by the end of the year, spread out from South Florida to Las Vegas.
That impressive growth, according to the company, can be attributed to the fact that “At the heart of Woof Gang Bakery is the fact that we love our dogs as much as you love your dog.” Which means that in addition to being a retail establishment, Woof Gang Bakery is also a meeting place for dogs—and dog lovers—in the community.
Location: Chicago, IL
Website: Fido to Go
With the current food truck phenomenon growing stronger every day, it was only a matter of time before the first “Gourmutt” food truck rolled up onto the sidewalk and Fido to Go is it. Founded by pet industry veteran Donna Santucci, who began fooling around in the kitchen to bake more wholesome treats for her own dog, Fido to Go’s cargo includes an array of gluten- and allergen-free cookies, ice creams and frozen yogurts. Santucci also makes her goodies available for catered events, where she’ll supply the cake, games and fun!
Location: Austin, TX
Website: Groovy Dog Bakery
Variety is the key ingredient at Austin’s Groovy Dog Bakery, where the bakery cases are packed with more than 40 types of treats for even the most finicky Fido. Among the goodies—which never include any added salt, sugar or preservatives—are the bakery’s signature Yappy Barkday Cakes, Pup Pies and Puppy Ice Creams, which are made with real yogurt. Owner Kim Hall keeps it all in the family, with her own groovy dogs in charge of pet relations and product testing. And clearly they’ve done a great job; there may be only one Groovy Dog Bakery location, but their products are available at more than 30 locations nationwide, from New York to California (including select Whole Foods).
Location: Lexington, KY
Website: Bluegrass Barkery
“Go Cats!” may be the battle cry of the University of Kentucky, but “Go Dogs!” would be the more appropriate mantra at Lexington’s Bluegrass Bakery. With two locations, the family-owned business works with only the most socially responsible companies to offer a full range of pet foods and supplies, including recycled and eco-friendly toys and fresh-baked treats (your dog won’t be able to resist a hot brown bone, ostrich jerky or a peanut butter sandwich). This dedication to canine well-being extends to Bluegrass Barkery’s philanthropic efforts, which include regular fundraisers and support of nearby rescue groups and shelters.
Location: Hyannis, MA
Dedicated to what they call “pup culture,” Pupcakes offers an impressive mix of toys, collars, leashes, beds, clothing, spa products, food and wholesome dog treats from some of the country’s best-known bakeries, plus a drool-worthy lineup of home-churned frozen yogurt (this is Cape Cod, after all). The flavors change with the season, but the current menu includes Pumpkin Bullystick and Bacon Molasses. Pooches with dietary restrictions will also find much to howl about here, with a range of specialty snacks for every palate.
Location: St. Louis, MO
Website: Treats Unleashed
The Treats Unleashed story started back in 2002, when husband and wife team Teresa and Ian Miller opened a dog treat kiosk in a St. Louis mall with Teresa’s sister, Gayle. Having recently moved back to Missouri from New York City, the couple was frustrated by the lack of all-natural dog food options to which they had become accustomed.
Clearly they weren’t the only ones, because the tiny pop-up became a huge hit. A decade later, Treats Unleashed operates eight outlets in the St. Louis area, where treats are fresh-baked inside the store (Carob Chippers, Peanut Butter Barkers, Cheese Quackers and Blueberry Soft Bites are among some of their loyal pooches’ favorites) and monthly partnerships with nearby rescue groups have led to more than $50,000 in donations to local pet nonprofit organizations.
Location: Boston, MA
Website: Polka Dog Bakery
The genesis of Boston’s Polka Dog Bakery—which operates in the South End and Jamaica Plain—is a heartwarming one: it’s dedicated to the memory and spirit of a one-eyed rescue Boxer named Pearl, who would dance her head from side to side as a greeting, earning her the nickname of “polka dog.” Polka Dog Bakeries adopt that same friendly demeanor, where dogs in need of a little extra love and/or spoiling will find a large menu of handmade treats, both sweet and savory, from frosted gingerbread cookies to hand-rolled dehydrated cod skins.
Location: Cranston, RI
Website: Jack’s Snacks
Jack’s Snacks is everything you look for in a cute little neighborhood bakery, complete with sidewalk seating, but dogs rule here. Founded in 2004, gourmet biscuits are the house specialty, with only the purest of ingredients making it into the final recipes, and no additives or preservatives are ever used. Among Jack’s best-selling treats are Nuts About Squirrels (peanut butter-flavored treats in the shape of squirrels), Beefy Hydrants (beef-flavored treats in the shape of—you guessed it—a fire hydrant), Caesar’s Pizza Pie and the signature Chicken and Garlic Bone-anza. Non-local dog owners wanting to give Jack’s Snacks a try can join the Biscuit of the Month Club.
Location: Newport Beach, CA
Website: Top Dog Barkery
Every pup gets the royal treatment at Top Dog Barkery, where free samples of baked-daily treats are just part of the in-store experience. Personalized cakes and other celebratory treats are Top Dog’s specialty and the Top Dog Bar—a peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting—is a best-seller. Dogs who lean toward the more savory side will appreciate the turkey and rice pup-overs and pup-pies. Top Dog’s dedication to canines extends beyond their gourmet food offerings; the Barkery regularly plays host to Yappy Hour Adoptions, where a $5 donation gets you a glass of wine—and hopefully a forever home for some pooches in need.
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