Joanna opens a cafe for canines
YOU won't find hot dogs on the menu at Woofs K-9 Cafe. But you might find real hungry hounds grabbing a bite in what is one of Britain's first canine cafes.
Few shops offer a warm welcome to man's best friend. So businesswoman Joanna Growns has created a place where canine chums and their human companions can socialise in perfect harmony.
Tea for a terrier: Ambrose enjoys a cup of tea in the dog-friendly cafe Woofs with his owner Jo Growns GIBG20110128F-001_C
Woofs is next to her pet pamper parlour the Ambrose Jones Dog Emporium and Grooming centre in Tankerton, named after her own pet fox terrier.
Joanna said: "It is a completely dog-friendly cafe. Customers are relaxed because they can bring their dogs inside without any problems. And if the owners are relaxed then the dogs are, too.
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"We even have special dog biscuits for our canine customers to snack on. As far as I know, this is the only place like it in the South East."
Joanna opened her first grooming parlour on the Tankerton roundabout five years ago but outgrew it and moved to her new premises in November.
She said: "I've gone from one of the smallest shops in Tankerton to one of the biggest in Tankerton Road. But I haven't changed too much about the business.
"I have always performed dog grooming in the shop window. I don't use drying cabinets and I don't muzzle the dogs. Everything is open and on view.
"But the increased space meant I could import a huge dog bath with a sliding door and pull-out steps so I can cater for much bigger dogs.
"I had an 11-stone mastiff in there last week which was a complete contrast to a 12-week-old chihuahua puppy today!"
Joanna, 37, originally trained as a florist and had her own flower shop in Whitstable.
She said: "I had achieved everything I wanted to in floristry. The market was changing and I couldn't compete with large supermarket chains, so I needed to do something different.
"Six months before I closed the florist I got Ambrose. He inspired me to focus on dog-related products and services – and I named the shop after him.
"He might be familiar to people because he used to sit in the shop window."
Joanna has several staff and her partner Dean Harvey, a painter and decorator, has joined her in the business.
There is also a bigger shopping section with toys, collars, leads, coats and food.
Joanna said: "I'm stocking holistic brands because in some types of dog food there are scary ingredients. I'm trying to make people more aware of just what they are feeding their pets.
"Good food will help animals build a strong immune system."
Her human customers can also ask for advice on how to help their hound win Best in Show.
She said: "I advise customers on the right beauty products for their dogs and tell them which basic grooming tools to use for particular types of coats."
For details call 01227 280010 or visit www.ambrosejoneswhitstable. co.uk.