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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

Biscuits baked for barkers

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Business can be dog-eat-dog, and one in Rossford is catering to the nation's sixth-largest bank holding company by providing canine treats for its customers' companions.

The Dog's Deli, 1137 Dixie Hwy., on Monday will ship the last of an order for 48,100 dog biscuits to Bank One, which plans to send the individually wrapped chicken-and-honey biscuits to its branches across the country.

The biscuits will be handed out at drive-through windows and could be available in the lobby of Bank One's 2,000 branches.

Larry Weaver, co-owner of The Dog's Deli, said the Bank One order - nearly 2,000 pounds - is the largest the deli has received since it opened two years ago.

Monica Whittenmyer packages biscuits with co-owner Larry Weaver. Monica Whittenmyer packages biscuits with co-owner Larry Weaver.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

Normally, orders are no larger than two to four pounds. The deli's previous largest order was 11 pounds, Mr. Weaver said.

“Has it been a problem? No. Have we learned a lot? Yes,” he said.

The firm made its part-time employee full time. It bought a used convection oven. And it enlisted the help of family and friends to package the dog biscuits.

Each biscuit goes into a small bag, gets a silver The Dog's Deli label, goes into a larger bag with 24 other biscuits, and finally, goes into a box.

“We all have carpal tunnel now,” said Monica Whittenmyer, the deli's other owner.

The Dog's Deli's original oven could hold only 100 dog biscuits at a time, so they used an oven at Brieschke's Bakery in Sylvania for two Mondays. But after baking the first 8,000 dog biscuits, they realized they needed their own large oven if they were to meet their six-week deadline, Ms. Whittenmyer said.

The new oven can hold five times as many dog biscuits as the old one. They can now bake 2,000 to 3,000 dog biscuits a day, Mr. Weaver said.

Andrea Baker, who had been hired part time in February, made up the recipe, which calls for chicken broth, honey, wheat flour, garlic, eggs, and ascorbic acid, a preservative.

One tray takes about 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake, said Ms. Baker, who has calluses on her hands from pushing the bone-shaped cookie cutter into the dough.

They try to stop baking by 4 p.m. each day because the dog biscuits have to cool overnight, Mr. Weaver said.

After the baking comes the packaging. The three have been spending all their free time packaging the biscuits, with the help of family and friends, Mr. Weaver said.

“We stay up late because we're running out of time,” he said.

The Dog's Deli sent half the order last weekend and hopes to finish baking the second half today. Tomorrow, they're having a packaging party with about 30 people.

“We've been packaging in our sleep,” Mr. Weaver said.

Bank One found The Dog's Deli's Web site and requested a trial order of 1,000 dog biscuits in April, Mr. Weaver said.

The Dog's Deli's owners think that after this order runs out, Bank One will place orders for restocking. Those orders will be much smaller, only 2,000 to 4,000 biscuits at a time.

The deli gave the bank a bulk discount - 11 cents for each biscuit. They usually sell for 25 cents each, Ms. Whittenmyer said.

The Dog's Deli hopes to get some new customers out of the Bank One deal. With nearly 50,000 dog biscuits spreading out across the country, each labeled with their business' name, address, and Web site, they expect at least a few new orders.

In addition to dog biscuits, The Dog's Deli offers birthday cakes, turkey loaf, tacos, pizza, and a daily lunch special, all for dogs.



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