Sunday, April 21, 2024

New dogs on the block: Gangsta Dog opens in Yorktown

Bruiser, pictured in a spiffy suit, is the face and inspiration for Gary and Laura Hughes’s business, Gangsta Dog. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Gary Hughes)

YORKTOWN — Make way, Yorktown! There’s a new business on the block that is sure to be your dog’s new favorite spot.

And it’s called Gangsta Dog.

Gangsta Dog was started by Gary and Laura Hughes, two big pup enthusiasts who have four dogs of their own: Bruiser, Daisy, Copper, and Eliza Scarface Doolittle.

This Louisville, Ky.-based business bakes dog biscuits for pups, no matter their size, shape, or health concern.

“Everything we’ve done is fun,” Gary said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Our whole company was started by accident.”

Bruiser, the Original “Gangsta Dog”

The name Gangsta Dog was inspired by Bruiser, their little pup with a very intriguing pedigree.

When the Hughes adopted Bruiser, they thought that he was a purebred Norwich Terrier. But as Bruiser grew, they realized that he looked nothing of the sort. The Hughes had his DNA tested and, as it turns out, Bruiser was more than one breed.

But instead of calling him a mutt, the Hughes would tell people, “He’s a Gangsta dog.”

When Bruiser grew up to look nothing like a Norwich Terrier, the Hughes discovered he was not a purebred but a “gangsta” dog. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Gary Huges)

With such a cool little pup, the Hughes wanted to do something fun to honor him, and decided to start a business. But Gary and Laura didn’t quite know what business they wanted to start.

The couple took a cookie decorating class where they accidentally discovered Gary had a natural talent for cookie decorating.

“Then my wife said to me, ‘That’s what you should do. Why don’t you make dog biscuits?’,” Gary said.

A Pup of an Idea turns into a Business

The Hughes hired an artist to design the company logo for Gangsta Dog while Gary took to Facebook to send out friend requests to anyone who had a dog. He offered to send them free dog biscuits made from the recipes that he found.

“If the dog didn’t like the biscuit, then we’d alter the recipe. And if two or more dogs didn’t like the recipe, then we’d do away that recipe and try another,” he said.

Gary Hughes and Bruiser. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Gary Hughes)

With nearly 50 dog-approved recipes, Gangsta Dog started by selling biscuits at farmers markets. In 2018, Gary and Laura opened their first permanent location in Louisville, Ky. Two years later, the couple began looking for a second storefront.

Gangsta Dog’s current product offerings include soft treats, dog sprinkles, CBD oil, dog-themed shirts for people, and the company’s own line of dog food. Gary and Laura also make dog biscuits for pups with special medical needs, such as diabetes or pancreatitis.

All of the treats Gangsta Dog sells are mixed, rolled, and cut by hand.

How Did a Kentucky-based Business End Up in Yorktown?

The Hughes were visiting Hampton Roads when they heard about the dog-friendly atmosphere at Yorktown Beach. After seeing so many people out and about with their pets, Gary and Laura knew that they found the perfect place for a second location.

“We saw so many people with their dogs, so we thought, well why not here?”  Gary said. There just so happened to be a store space available at Riverwalk Landing, so Gangsta Dog pounced at the opportunity.

Gangsta Dog, located at 319 Water St. in Yorktown, officially opens on Friday, April 2. Business hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On opening day, any dogs that come to check out the shop will get a free biscuit. To see what Gangsta Dog has available for your special pup, check out their website by clicking here.


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