The immeasurable joy of dog ownership is amplified in a city like Orlando, where sublime weather and a multitude of dog parks, hiking trails and outdoor events make it easy for your furry BFF to tag along on your exploits. I bring mine just about everywhere. Except food truck festivals.
Mr. Stankins, the Mutt Truck's wrinkly rep, spreads the snacktime love at Fleet Peeples, Winter Park's canine Riviera. — Photo courtesy of Lauren Hicks
Why? The dreaded "look." How can those of us most vulnerable to puppy eyes stay strong when we’re scarfing down everything from potstickers to soft serve and our poor, starving pups get nothing?
Enter Orlando entrepreneur sisters Kathy Trimble and Lauren Hicks – the former a businesswoman and burgeoning foodie, the latter an experienced veterinary technician, food-truck lover and proud owner of Mr. Stankins, a highly allergic pug/shar-pei mix. They are the team behind the Sit 'N Stay Pet Cafe (a.k.a., the Mutt Truck).
Co-founder Lauren Hicks and partner show off the pupcakes. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Judging by the calls from pet adoption organizations and other groups clamoring to host the truck at area events, they are clearly filling an untapped niche. Trimble's research suggests there are some 70,000 cats and dogs in Central Florida. "We're offering foodies the option of including their furry friends in their culinary adventures." Treats also can be ordered via their eponymous online shop.
Much of the menu is based on people food. "We just take out all the stuff that's bad for cats and dogs." They enjoy the creative process, inventing themed treats for holidays, like maple-glazed holiday ham jerky and "mutt-wurst" for Oktoberfest. Even doggie "pupsicles."
Good boy: Finn anticipates his frosty, ham-flecked delight. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Every item on the menu is all natural, organic and human-grade. The chefs sample their wares more often than not (though neither has worked up the courage to eat a cat treat). Curious pet owners, however, can feel free to taste test. "The apple 'pupcakes' are pretty tasty," says Trimble, "and the jerky treats are a little addictive, too."