Manayunk’s newest business has tails wagging.
By Megan Douress
Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
On any given summer day, you’re greeted by a procession of sun-soaking dogs as you walk down the sidewalks of Main Street. Our four-legged friends join us while we dine outside, and many of them are able to shop inside some of our stores. These days, it’s us that are doing the shopping with our canine companions, thanks to Main Street’s newest specialty shop, Pet Friendly Dog Bakery.
While Manayunk is one of the most dog-friendly neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the district has always been missing something that’s just for our furry friends. Teresa and Lenny Bazemore realized this after seeing pet bakeries in cities around the country and thought it would be a good fit for Manayunk. On January 13, the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery opened its doors at 4324 Main Street.
“We opened Pet Friendly Dog Bakery because we wanted to provide a place to the Manayunk community where our doggy children are welcome to come and enjoy themselves,” said Teresa Bazemore, co-owner of Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. “They bring joy to our lives everyday and deserve a place where they are celebrated and pampered.”
In order to best run this new business, Teresa and Lenny put a call out for a general manager with very unique experience.
“I saw the job listing on Indeed.com and thought, ‘That’s silly, a dog bakery? I don’t see how that could pay my bills!’” said General Manager, Steph Johnson. “I met with Teresa and we hit it off. We started going back and forth with ideas.”
Steph had a background in the restaurant industry and even worked as a pet retailer for years, but even she didn’t see a job where the two would combine for the perfect next step in her career.
“I just, out of nowhere, got a job at Petco when I was 18, and it fueled me,” she said. “I grew up with dogs and cats, and had bunnies and other animals. They’re super fun and loving — unconditionally. Who doesn’t want that?”
It’s safe to say Steph and her experienced staff get plenty of unconditional love while they’re at work. It’s not uncommon for them to see dogs dragging their owners through the door of the bakery on a daily basis, and there’s a good reason for it. The case at the front counter is filled with fresh, locally baked goods. You can find your classic bone-shaped cookies, to donuts with sprinkles, hamburgers and french fries, and even cookies with your favorite Philadelphia sports logos perfectly lined in icing.
“We’ve had people from around the country come in and buy Philadelphia-themed cookies to bring home with them,” Steph explained. “One time, we had a customer who grew up here but now lives in Hawaii. She came in the day before she flew back home to pick up a bunch of Philadelphia-themed cookies to bring home to her dog!”
Hungry canine customers can also find seasonal flavors and designs each week, thought up by the staff and their local baker, who’s located right here in Manayunk.
“We’re trying to incorporate the community as far as the shapes and themes we’ll be doing,” Steph said. “We did a strawberry for the StrEAT Food Festival, and we have some fun ideas to sync up with the Stroll the Street themes in the works.”
In addition to fun and flavorful cookies, the bakery also carries meat treats, which are made of local ingredients right outside of Harrisburg.
“I went in one day to visit the baker of our meat treats, and he literally had a fresh cow liver out in front of him,” Steph remembered. “We stand behind everything that has our name on it. There’s nothing foreign or weird in our treats that you have to worry about.”
The bakery certainly has fresh and locally made baked goods – for both dogs and cats – but there’s so much more to it than that. The walls are lined with overflowing shelves of everything from leashes to collars, sweater vests and bowties, to dog-friendly ice cream and beer, to stuffed look-alike toys and, of course, balls — all hand-selected by Steph and her team.
“All of our products — toys, treats, collars, leashes, you name it — are products that our staff really, really loves and are passionate about,” Steph said. “It’s all stuff you won’t find in a big box pet store. That’s big for me — to be different and make our products unique and fun.”
Steph also does extensive research on all of the products the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery brings into their store.
“For instance, the CBD oil treats that we carry weren’t just something I found. I read the reviews and did research on the companies that sell it,” she explained. “I want to support companies that are ethical — toys that aren’t just going to fall apart and treats that have some kind of health benefit.”
And while pets and pet owners alike will love shopping for new toys and products, perhaps the best part is that a lot of their new inventory can be played with before you even purchase it.
“We always have samples of our toys in our play areas so we can say, ‘That one really lasts a long time.’ Plus, they’re fun!” Steph said.
The Pet Friendly Dog Bakery has three areas where dogs can hang out or interact with their canine companions. Downstairs is the Dog Lounge, complete with beanbag chairs and DogTV — perfect for lounging on extra hot or rainy days.
“Most dogs don’t really watch it but I like watching it — it’s cute!” Steph laughed.
Dogs who are a little shy or need a break from playtime can head up to the Doggy Deck. On weekends, shoppers can grab a coffee and relax on the patio furniture. Dogs looking to run around can do so on the Puppy Patio, which is completely fenced in and paved over — ideal for owners who don’t want to give their dogs a bath after playtime.
And for the pups who like to party, you can rent out the Dog Lounge for birthday parties — complete with decorations and a customized carrot and peanut butter cake, along with pizza for the party people. In addition, Steph and her staff are known for coming up with unique events for their customers to attend.
“That’s my favorite thing to do, to think of the wildest, weirdest event you can have with your dog, and then do it!” Steph laughed. “We had a doggy disco where we had disco balls and disco music playing. The events bring people out, and they love it. It gets kind of hectic at times where there are a lot of people here, but I just want to show people what we do and that’s the best way to do it — to do these events.”
And while summer break is in full swing, class is in session at the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. The Main Street business is teaming up with Philly Unleashed to offer basic obedience classes and workshops, such as lessons in dining with your dog.
“They do a phenomenal job and everyone who’s trained with them has been happy,” Steph said of the new partnership. “They’ll be pretty small classes so you can get that personalized experience.”
Steph and her caring staff keep busy on a daily basis, from scouring the internet for fun new toys, to brainstorming the next big event. But the thing they love most about coming to work every day are their loyal canine customers.
“I feel like each one of us who works here has a spirit animal that comes in,” Steph said. “I love meeting new dogs, but it’s fun when they come back and their owners tell you how much they loved a toy or treat.”