Doggie ice cream parlor coming soon to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot
·3 min read

The weather is warming up, vaccines are winding their way through the world, the sun is already playing peek-a-boo. It’s almost ice cream season.

But as you’ve probably never thought, not even once: Why should humans have all the fun?

As of April on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, dogs can get in on the action.

Salty Paws will soon open what they’re calling the “first doggie ice cream shop in Virginia” — a place for pups to partake in the summertime ritual of the ice cream dance, with some very canine-specific flavors like maple-bacon and liver-crunch.

Doggie ice cream is the brainchild of Suzanne Tretowicz, who founded the first Salty Paws location three years ago in the Atlantic Coast town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Why would dogs need an ice cream shop of their own? In part, it’s because Tretowicz already saw people giving the human version to their pets along the boardwalk.

“People love to spoil their pets,” she said. “We saw people give them the unhealthy alternative, so we opened an ice cream shop where people could give them something healthier. … A lot of dogs are lactose intolerant.”

The ice cream at Salty Paws is sugar-free and lactose-free, made with yogurt and goat’s milk, served sundae-bar-style with toppings that might include crushed liver or chicken.

The shop garnered a lot of attention upon opening, Tretowicz said, leading quickly to a second location in Delaware and more parlors in Maryland and New Jersey.

“People love their pets, they humanize them, they love them like they love their children. We host birthday parties, ice cream socials,” she said. “People love the toppings bar, it’s just like a real ice cream bar. We ask everyone, ‘Are you dining in taking it to go? Would you like the toppings?”

As at an ice cream bar designed for humans, dogs are allowed to do taste tests, so you can learn whether your dog likes vanilla or blueberry, pumpkin or peanut butter. Available toppings include tripe, beef and lamb ‘n’ liver.

Salty Paws also works with bakeries to offer doggie donuts, Navy-themed doggie cookies and doggie cakes shaped like poo emojis. The shop also sells powders and toppings so families can make doggie ice cream at home, as well as merchandise including ball caps, leashes and puppy antlers.

Lest humans feel left out, there are packaged ice cream bars for the bipedal.

The Oceanfront location, at 352 Laskin Road, just off Pacific Avenue, will be a franchise started by Virginia Beach locals — Vanessa Griffin, a 19-year Navy Chief, and her parents, Melodie and Michael, who come from salon and retail backgrounds.

The Griffins had stopped by the Annapolis location last year, Tretowicz said, and they loved it enough to ask about franchising upon a return visit. The store came together quickly, and will have a patio area so families can let their dogs eat ice cream outside.

The Salty Paws shops are designed to mimic human ice cream parlors, with lots of space and tables for indoor dining. And yes, the tables include doggie dining.

“It really has kind of a beach vibe,” said Tretowicz, “with bright blue, we call it Salty Paws blue, corrugated metal. People love the store. They love seeing the dogs eat ice cream.”

The grand opening in Virginia Beach is planned for April 4. You can follow the shop’s progress at facebook.com/SaltyPawsVABeach.

Matthew Korfhage, 757-446-2318, matthew.korfhage@pilotonline.com