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“Will you be dining in or taking out?” Kyle Scotto asked Rey, a black pit bull mix, on a recent scorching afternoon.
Robert Bower, 32, answered for his pit, whose paws were on the ice cream shop’s counter (this is not frowned upon): Rey would be eating her bacon and cheddar cheese ice cream combo on the premises.
“I’m running errands and there aren’t a lot of places I can go with her,” said Bower, who lives near Scotto’s shop and works from home. “It’s hard to find an indoor dog-friendly place.”
At Salty Paws, Scotto’s new dog food and pet novelty shop with a pup-centered ice cream counter, dogs (and cats, too) can sit inside with their owners and beat the heat, licking away at their ice cream or scarfing down their donut tableside.
Scotto opened Salty Paws in mid October with his mom, Dianna. It’s in the center of busy East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, surrounded by restaurants, art galleries and apparel boutiques. Many people strolling the Ave bring along their pooches, so the Scottos figured they had a readymade clientele looking for a way to keep their animals occupied during a day or night out.
The store is part of a small franchise with a half-dozen other shops along the East Coast. Its menu includes many ingredients recognizable to humans, including lactose-free milk, oats, honey and peanut butter. Pets can feast on cookies, ice pops, “beer” (actually beef bone broth), CBD treats and the usual share of meat products, including pig ears, deer antlers and cheese-filled cattle hoofs ($4.99 each).
There are no traditional snacks for sale for humans to eat as their pet binges, but the Scottos encourage pet owners to hang out with a cup of coffee or their take-out lunch.
The centerpiece of the store is the ice cream bar, which offers unlimited tastes of its vanilla, cheddar cheese, maple bacon, banana cream, pumpkin and blueberry flavors ($4.99 for a small, $5.99 for medium and $6.99 for large). Toppings are definitively non-human: chicken, rabbit, venison and turkey ($1 each).
Birthdays are a big deal here. The store fits a crown on the dog’s head and asks Alexa to sing Happy Birthday. A Happy Birthday cookie is $5.99. Salty Paws posts the pup’s picture on its Facebook and Instagram pages.
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Dianna Scotto, a retired New York City police sergeant, had been rescuing dogs from shelters for 10 years when she learned about the Salty Paws franchise. Kyle also was looking to change careers; he had owned an apparel and accessories company.
The family has four dogs: three Chihuaha mixes, Cash, Sassy and L.J., and a 14-year-old disabled mixed breed foster from Puerto Rico named Rosie.
The Scottos said they try to bring some joy into the lives of their rescued pets, and hope Salty Paws also offers dogs and their owners a respite from whatever outside challenges them.
“People are thrilled to be able to come into a store with their dog,” Dianna Scotto said. “If your dog is happy, you’re happy.”