[UPDATE Jan 2019: THE Café has now re-located to the boutique.] We made a special to visit this Canine Café with Elsa while on our way home from visiting family in the North East.
When we arrived in the market town of Stockton-on-Tees we spotted the Wags and Whiskers Pet Boutique straight away. This is based on Dovecot Street, a two minute walk away from Wags & Whiskers Canine Café on Finkle Street. After having a look around the shop we were ready for some refreshments so we asked for directions and headed towards the café.
This café is devoted to it’s canine visitors with an extensive range of dog treats available, supplied by Pupcakes dog bakery and made with 100% natural ingredients.
Dogs also have their own selection of drinks to choose from in the café including Pawsecco, dog beer and a variety of tonics.
Typically, Elsa was drawn to the cheese scones meant for humans!
The café is bright, open and very clean and food is prepared in a separate area away from the dogs.
After a quick look around we tried to settle at a table by the window. Unfortunately Elsa was restless and decided to let out a few high pitched barks to get another dog’s attention… At this point we were very grateful that we were in a dog oriented establishment, rather than somewhere that was just dog friendly! The other customers were quite understanding.
The Doggy Menu | Natural, wholesome food alongside special treats!
The Human Menu | Although dogs take centre stage in this café, humans certainly aren’t left out when it comes to the menu!
We decided to have a freshly baked cheese scone and a cheese and ham toastie with our coffees. These were both served warm and were absolutely delicious.
Elsa was given a bowl of water while we waited for our order, and she appeared to settle down for a little while…
We ordered her a ‘Fish Finger’ which she had a little nibble on…
The proximity of the other dogs in the café proved to be too much of a distraction for Elsa!
The menu isn’t the only thing in the café that is dog oriented; the decor is absolutely adorable too! We particularly love this wallpaper and the dog themed fabric on the chairs.
When another group left we took the opportunity to move to a different table so that Elsa could be closer to the other dogs and this seemed to satisfy her.
Elsa was mesmerised by this handsome fellow and was keen to get his approval!
With Elsa in a more sociable mood we headed downstairs to explore the extended seating and dog play area…
The area downstairs is a den of tranquility. It’s the perfect place to sit if you need a bit more space or quieter surroundings for your dog.
We also met a gorgeous little Shih Tzu puppy downstairs… he was he was headed to the play area which is sectioned off so that the dogs can interact without their leads getting all tangled up.
One of the best things about the café is that it’s full of other dog owners and they are there because they want to be around dogs, so you don’t have to worry too much about upsetting customers who might not be used to how dogs normally behave and interact with each other. Although Elsa was a bit more vocal than usual it didn’t spoil our experience because we didn’t feel like the staff or other customers were judging us, or her. In fact being in the café around other dogs actually helped to put Elsa in a better mood!
Q&A with Carl Shepherdson, Managing Director of Wags & Whiskers Canine Café
Carl owns two dogs called Maggie and Mae. He tells us the story behind the Wags & Whiskers brand and what we can expect in the future:
Why did you decide to open a café that caters for dogs?
Wags & Whiskers Pet Boutique opened in October 2013 in the Stockton town centre ‘enterprise arcade’ a council run facility for new businesses to test trade retail for 6 months with very few overheads. We soon realised the people of Teesside and further afield wanted natural pet food/treats and quality products for their dogs & cats, after 6 months we moved into our own store at 26 Dovecot Street and in August 2015 we opened a second boutique store in the seaside town, Saltburn by the Sea. We get lots of people coming to the Stockton store from outside the area and many of them didn’t just want to visit the store and go home, they wanted to explore Stockton and have something to eat/drink. There was no other dog friendly cafés in Stockton, we put a survey on our social media asking customers thoughts on a ‘dog café’ and received over 500 responses in 1 week. In May last year a premises came available for the café and I decided to give it a go!
We travelled quite a distance to visit you. Do you get a lot of customers doing the same, or would you say the majority of your customers are locals/ regulars?
We get lots of people travelling from outside the area, just this weekend we had a doggie visitor from Wales! We have a very loyal customer base now with regulars we see every day we are open.
Do most of your customers bring dogs with them?
Although we are a canine café it was really important to me that we also catered for humans well too, the whole ethos of our boutique stores is ‘the very best for dogs & cats’ and that was important that was reflected in the café canine and human menu. For our human menu all our cakes & scones are baked fresh daily (no packet mixes!) and we use the best coffee beans around (in our opinion!) Rounton Coffee which is roasted in a village 20 minutes from us. We get customers in without dogs who enjoy our human menu. We also have a 5 star food hygiene rating which gives confidence to customers.
What are your most popular human treats?
Definitely the pulled pork & cheese panini and our scones.
What are your most popular dog treats?
Shepherds Pie, woofins and buffalo sausages.
Do you have any plans to expand or open any other branches/ franchise?
We are working on a franchise package for both the boutique store and café with a view to launch later this year.
Do you host events etc throughout the year?
Events have been the key to our success for both the boutiques & café, we hold an annual fun dog show within the Stockton town centre. Other events we have hosted include breed specific gatherings for French bulldogs, pugs, chihuahuas and dachshunds. We have also hosted canine first aid workshops and themed photo shoots. Our busiest event of the year is Santa Paws!
Are your customers always well behaved?
Considering how many dogs we have in the café, they are very well behaved (apart from my own 2 dogs!)
What do your own dogs make of the coffee shop? Do they enjoy spending time there? What are their favourite treats?
Maggie & Mae love their visits and especially our new indoor play pen. Maggies favourite treat is the buffalo sausage, Mae enjoys the pawty rings.
We’d recommend following Wags & Whiskers Canine Café on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see all the adorable pictures of their canine visitors including dogs celebrating their birthdays, puppies and the occasional picture of their latest human treats!
If you are looking for an experience that you can share with your dog; whether it’s just a drink and a cake, or if you want to treat them to something a bit more special, or even throw them a party we’d highly recommend visiting this delightful canine café!