“The day-to-day birthdays are probably the most
precious thing we do,” Romano says.
While cakes and cookies for canine ice cream
sandwiches are baked in the Romanos’ kitchen at
home, ice cream and other goodies, such as cheesecake, are prepared on site in the small café kitchen. Gourmet bakery delicacies are purchased from
trusted vendors, and all are made with human-grade
Everybody’s yappy when yappy hour rolls
around. It’s a daily event, where human guests are
welcome to bring their own alcoholic beverages for
patio seating, and Fido might quaff a cooling doggie
The Bark Out Loud atmosphere is joyful, as visiting pets and their owners get their groove on by
listening to music from a repertoire of 70 dog-relat-ed songs.
“Often, people sing along, especially the kids,”
she says. “They love it when ‘Who Let the Dogs
Out’ comes on. Everyone is singing and laughing.
I love it.”
For pet owners with an artistic bent, Paint Your
Pup Paw-ty nights offer would-be portraitists a
chance to hone their skills and create a furry work of
art in a festive atmosphere. The events, held monthly,
are led by a local artist, and the minimal fee provides
painting supplies, appetizers, soft drinks and dessert.
Guests may bring their own alcoholic beverages.
“The café becomes an art gallery on those Saturday nights,” Romano says.
The place bustles on most holidays, with exciting
events that run the gamut from Labor Day ice cream
socials, for example, to the ever-popular visits with
“We have a real Santa,” she says. “The dogs love
it and literally run to him.”
The café is kept spotlessly clean and occupies
approximately 25 percent of floor space in the
In August 2018, the store celebrated its own third
birthday with a customer appreciation party. The
gala featured human refreshments, and free Hawg
N’ Heffer beer floats for the furry set. Door prizes,
free vendor samples and goodie bags rounded out
“We had 60 dogs and 80 to 90 people at the party,” she says. “It’s about bringing people and dogs
What is Bark Out Loud best known for?
Connie Romano: When I see social media comments about the store,
people always mention the great time they had with their dog. We offer
a fun experience for dogs and their people.
What is the greatest challenge in the pet retail industry today?
Romano: So many offerings are available at pet expos that it can be
overwhelming to find items to carry that will create a strong product mix.
The greatest challenge for the pet industry overall?
Romano: Competing with the online retailers is a challenge. They take away
the personal touch of the experience. Customers and their pets should be
able to come in and smell or play with a product. I am happy with the way
my customer base has grown, but the online retailers are always on
What do you see for the future of Bark Out Loud?
Romano: I’m doing what I love and I’m content. If a space adjacent
to this store should become available, I might consider expanding to add
a dog wash.
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