Owner of Mansfield's Bark Out Loud Dishes on Dogs, Treats & Doing What You Love
Jul 10, 2017 03:29PM
By Melanie Heisinger
Photo courtesy of Bark Out Loud Doggie Boutique & Café's Facebook page.
Mansfield's Bark Out Loud Doggie Boutique & Café has been a staple in the community for all things pup since 2015. From doggie treats to dog birthday parties, Bark Out Loud really has it all.
Oh, and they also sell things that humans can enjoy, too. Find dog-themed apparel accessories, toys, safety gear, as well as leashes, collars, harnesses, jerseys, and lots of natural chews, treats and supplements.
We got in touch with owner Connie Romano to learn a little bit more about Bark Out Loud and how it got started. Read on to hear her story.
Tell us a little about Bark Out Loud. How did it get started?
In 2000, I became the owner of my first West Highland White Terrier, Stuart. Maybe I should say that he became my owner. His housemate, Macie, entered the picture the following year. She’s almost 16 years old today.
From the first day Stuart entered our lives, he was destined to be my “heart dog” maybe even my soulmate. The bond we shared was incredible. We did so much together. My world was shattered when we lost him suddenly to cancer when he was 12. We did try to fill that immense hole he left several months later with two more Westies, Conner and Drake. They were 5 year old rescues who brought lots of joy into our home, once more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What's your role within the business?
I worked at General Motors (in Arlington) and retired in the spring of 2015 after 37 years. I knew I wanted to transition into retirement by doing something fun, something different. After giving it long and thoughtful consideration, I decided it would be dog related. It wasn’t going to be grooming or daycare, but maybe a place where dog parents and their fur kids could hang out, spend time together and would take them out of the Texas summer heat, to perhaps meet other dog families. Why not a doggie café? Sure, we could provide healthy gourmet treats, doggie beer, pizza, wine, cigars, ice cream, cheese cake, yogurts and birthday cakes.
So, the planning started.
Even though Stuart had been gone for three years, he was my true inspiration and I wanted to honor his memory and the special relationship we shared. His portrait is proudly displayed behind the bakery counter overseeing our creation. I asked myself, what would he have liked for treats? What toys would he have wanted to play with? It took about 4 months to build my little dream doggie café.
My heart went into every detail. I was ready to “do what I love and love what I do.”
What can someone expect while visiting Bark Out Loud?
The shop is 1,400 square feet with a dog park themed café that can seat 12 humans and lots of dogs of all sizes. A patio is also out front and can seat more customers. The doors opened on August 1, 2015. Every day brings joy and wonderful stories of inspiration, memories and love. Every day I remember Stuart when I see the bond that so many have with their fur babies.
We allow every breed of every age and size. We ask that all humans remain on a leash while in the shop, with one exception. While enjoying one’s doggie birthday party, you get exclusive use of the café and it’s gated during the private parties. Dogs can then be off leash if they can behave. What dog doesn’t love birthday parties?
We have human treats, as well. We sell people coffees, ice tea, ice coffee, sodas, ice creams, delicious smoothies and multiple snacks.
We moved quickly into selling doggie apparel, accessories, toys, safety gear, leashes, collars, harnesses, jerseys, and lots of natural chews, treats and supplements. We also sell people gifts and fun tee shirts.
Do you ever host any special events?
We host a patio Yappy Hour daily from 6-7PM. BYOB and as long as you purchase something for your pup, you can hang out as long as you want. Bring your friends. Bring your dog’s friends. Meet new friends.
We also host Paint Your Pup parties once every month. They’re always on Saturday night from 7-9:30pm. A really fun girls’ night out or date night. You submit your pup’s picture in advance, our artist sketches it on the canvas, then walks you through step by step till you have your masterpiece. The cost includes all the supplies, heavy snacks and munchies, soft drinks and desert. BYOB!
We also have Halloween and Valentine’s Day parties, ice cream socials and Santa Paws comes during the holidays. Most of our events include a professional pet photographer. Fundraisers held at the store help raise money for Meals On Wheels companion pets and pet oxygen masks for over 30 fire departments in the DFW area.
What is your personal favorite aspect of the business and its mission?
Bark Out Loud was recently the proud recipient of the Sixth Annual Global Pet Expo Retailer Excellence Award for Marketing. The expo officials, along with Pet Business magazine and Coastal Pet Products, honored 10 outstanding pet specialty retailers at the Orlando, FL event.
What's one of your most memorable moments while working there?
It still makes me chuckle when a customer says “people think I’m crazy, but my dogs are my kids. They’re so spoiled!” Well…………..look at me, I say. I opened a dog café!
And for the record, dogs are the new kids.
Bark Out Loud Doggie Boutique and Café is located at 1601 E Debbie Lane, Mansfield in the Villas de Lucca Apartment retail section, right next to Jets Pizza. Give them a call at 817-453-7989 or 1-844-PUP-CAFÉ.