August 2007 Issue
Step through the door and you'll immediately notice the enticing aroma coming from the kitchen.
But before you get your hopes up, you'll discover those scents –– which include beef, cinnamon and peanut butter –– are not for you. They've been concocted to tempt the taste buds of your favorite four-legged friend.
The Grateful Dog Bakery, located in North Ridgeville, features fresh, natural, handmade treats your dog –– or cat –– is sure to wolf down. That's because owners Nancy and Rick Winrod are pet lovers themselves with four cats –– Harley, Noel, Cole and Scooter, all rescued strays, and two dogs –– Buddy, a miniature dachshund, and Minnie, a dachshund mix.
Nancy got the idea for her specialty bakeshop five years ago while watching an episode of the TV show "Providence," which featured a character who owned a bakery for pets.
"That was my light-bulb moment," she recalls. "I've worked with food forever –– my last stint was with Pampered Chef for 10 years –– and have been in retail management. I knew I wanted to do something with pets, but I didn't want to be a vet tech. This just seemed like a natural match."
The couple operated the store out of their home for three years, but needed to expand. "It was taking over our entire house," Nancy says, explaining why they moved into a storefront down the street two years ago.
The couple enjoys tweaking people food, which includes eliminating sugar and salt and engaging in extensive experimentation, to make it safe for pets, yet remain consistent and visually appealing. The Winrod family menagerie weighs in on the taste-testing. The paws-down favorite: peanut-butter bones dipped in vanilla yogurt.
"They just love peanut butter, it ranks right up there," Nancy says with a laugh.
Keeping pets healthy, the Winrods say, is their main objective. The foods they bake and sell contain no chemical preservatives or artificial flavoring. The ingredients used are totally natural and, in many cases, organic.
Pet lovers will also find a wide assortment of boutique items, ranging from pet-themed greeting cards to grooming aids, clothing and toys. An owner can even throw a fete for a four-legged pal, complete with cake, party hats, birthday bandanas and goodie bags.
"I want this to be a place where people can bond with their pets," Nancy says.
The Grateful Dog Bakery is located at 31966 Center Ridge Road in North Ridgeville. For more information, call 440/353-1990 or visit www.gratefuldogbakery.com