Monday, Jan 31, 2022

Jersey Shore ice cream shop is just for dogs. Bone appetite!

Please click here for more information on Salty Paws - Dog Friendly Ice Cream Bar

By Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for and Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for

Visitors of the Jersey Shore love their ice cream and when a new shop opened in Stone Harbor last month it was the “bark” of the town.

Unique toppings such as dehydrated chicken, dehydrated liver and steak n’ sweet potato flavored bones are the paw-fect combinations to a wide variety of ice cream flavors that had all the customers drooling for more.

Welcome to Salty Paws, a doggie ice cream bar and bakery that claims to be the first of its kind in New Jersey.

On a recent Saturday, the shop on 96th street was bustling with all breeds of dogs, accompanied by their humans, who stopped in to see what all the tail wagging was about and sample a taste of the lactose-free frozen treat. Prices range from $4.99 for one scoop to $6.99 for three scoops with $1 per topping.

“No dog leaves unhappy,” said owner Donna Kokol as she watched dogs patiently wait — well some patiently wait — for their ice cream to be served.

Banana, bacon, and peanut butter are just some of the eight flavors of ice cream to choose from. And seven different types of toppings, like dehydrated sweet potato or peanut butter yogurt chips — a dog’s version of sprinkles or jimmies — complete the treat.

Kokol, of Avalon, visited the first Salty Paws shop, which is located in Delaware, approximately three years ago and eventually bought into the franchise.

“I walked in one day and fell in love with the concept,” she said about her first visit.

A doggie ice cream shop was the vision of Pennsylvania resident Suzanne Tretowicz who founded her first store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after she noticed people feeding their dogs the frozen treat on the boardwalk.

“I thought to myself how creative it would be to open an ice cream shop that’s just for dogs,” said Tretowicz. Her ice cream would be healthier for the dogs rather than the lactose-based version meant for their owners.

Her idea was so popular that people started asking about franchise opportunities. About a year ago the ball started rolling and now Stone Harbor is the third franchise to open.

“We’re still fairly new but it’s moving really quick and people absolutely love it,” Tretowicz said.

Kokol decided to open her shop in Stone Harbor because it is such a dog-friendly town, and in January found a store on the main street into the city.

“If you’re in Stone Harbor you want to be on 96th Street,” she said.

By late afternoon, Salty Paws had a steady flow of customers. The sound of the dogs’ nails trying to get traction on the smooth floor while attempting to greet a new friend echoed throughout the shop.

Paul and Kate Corey, of Sea Isle City, were two of the few customers that walked into the shop without a dog.

“I’m not a dog lover,” said Paul, a former paperboy who had his fair share of close encounters with man’s best friend while on the job. “Especially a couple German shepherds,” he said with a laugh.

But that didn’t stop them from supporting the new business in town, and buying a few bones for the dogs they know.

The first stop on the dog’s journey to the ice cream bar is the bone section. Stuffed bones filled with flavors such as beef, liver, chicken, and peanut butter and jelly are just a quick sniff from the front door.

Then it’s on to the main course, the ice cream.

Kylo, a 1-year-old super mutt — a mix of husky, American Eskimo and German shepherd — was eager to try his ice cream as he waited with both paws on the counter.

His owners, Andrew Napoleon and his wife Alison, of Wildwood, chose the banana ice cream and placed the cup on the floor as they ordered a cup of bacon-flavored for Rey, their 1-year-old German shepherd.

It didn’t take long for Kylo to spill his ice cream all over the floor and it took only seconds for him to lick it up.

In this bar, eating off the floor is encouraged.

“It looks so good I’d like to try it myself,” said Andrew.

Macklin, a 1-year-old super mutt, who happens to be Kylo’s brother, had the blueberry ice cream. He seemed pretty happy with the flavor that his owner Emily Gannon picked out.

“I think it’s like our equivalent to a coffee shop,” said Gannon, a Cape May resident. She is thrilled to have a shop like this to bring her dog to because Cape May’s choices are limited.

Of course, Gannon couldn’t leave the store without extra treats for her dog. “I got some of the filled bones, bacon and cheddar and the peanut butter and jelly.”

The bakery section, filled with cookies and donuts — all made with human-grade ingredients — contain no sugar and are primarily a peanut butter and chicken base with a yogurt coating. And what looks like chocolate is carob, a chocolate alternative that is safe for dogs.

“I have to say the drink cookies have been a big hit,” said Kokol. The drink-shaped cookies — Grrrona Extra, Quarantini, and Pawtron — are just a few of the popular cookies the shop has available.

According to Tretowicz, the shop — which also hosts fundraisers, birthday parties and Ice cream socials — will soon have collars, leashes, beds, toys, and new ice cream flavors. And an antler bar.

“Nature’s perfect chew,” said Tretowicz.

Outside the shop, a crowd gathered to watch the many dogs happily eat their cup of ice cream that their owners held for them.

For Callie, 4-year-old mixed breed rescue, the peanut butter had all her attention.

“Callie seems like a happy customer doesn’t she?” said Christine Krynock, of Stone Harbor, as she watched her dog woof down her ice cream.

Bone appetite!

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