What We Do
Blind Dog Café & Bakery is a community hangout spot with amazing espresso, great food, and free Wi-Fi. We largely source our food and coffee from the DC community to bring you the freshest, local options. The Bakery side of the business supplies the dough for our baked goods at the Cafe, as well as for many other local food destinations.
Why We Went Into Food
Blind Dog Cafe began, as most good ideas do, with a dog. Founder Jonas Singer noticed a lack of community hangouts in the area of Shaw while he wandered around the neighborhood with his adorable blind dog, Baxter. With Baxter in tow, Jonas, Noah Karesh, and Cullen Gilchrist approached Darnell of Darnell’s Bar, which only opens after 5pm, to create a pop-up café during the day when the bar was not operating.
What Have We Learned
Never give up. If you can dream it, you can do it. If you build it, they will come.
What We Love
We love the people. Our regulars who come into the café weekly, who make Blind Dog the community hangout spot we always dreamed of having, make all the stress of owning a small food business worth it. The diehard fans of our cookies inspire us to continue to grow and innovate and try out new flavors to make sure we are the best we can be.
What Is Next For Us
Cookie Dough Latte – coming soon to the Blind Dog Café near you.
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The goal of Xocolata is to become a world-class brand for exquisite pastry that inspires people to be unrelenting in their pursuit of excellence and creativity. Founder and chef Cassity Jones has more than 14 years experience in pastry arts, working in five-star, five-diamond hotels and restaurants—including Le Cirque, Circo, Bellagio, and Four Seasons—with world-renowned pastry chefs who have contributed to the evolution of pastry arts and science. His products convey modern designs that combine traditional with exotic flavors, which create a palatable and visual experience and satisfy an increasingly more demanding and sophisticated clientele. Cassity is drawn to people who are committed to making a product exceptional and who apply practices and values that he aspires to deliver through his products: integrity, accountability, perseverance, fortitude, uncompromising standards, and an uncommon desire to succeed.
Xocolata started out with the s’more pop and the almond nougatine with milk chocolate. Both sold by word of mouth and at just a few local stores. Xocolata now includes a line of jams that combine chocolate, fruit, and accent flavors, a line of chocolate truffles with some interesting flavor combinations as well as traditional flavors, and a range of cookies and brownies that are sold by local vendors, online, and at local farmer’s markets.
Cassity plans to expand his line with signature cakes that combine complementary flavors and unique textures to showcase his artistic skills and technical abilities. Though currently working with local stores and wholesale vendors, Cassity plans to open a flagship store where people can go to immerse themselves in the world of Xocolata.
Who are The Popcorn Queens? What do we do?
We are April and Bonnie Wardlaw, a mother-daughter team from the Washington, DC area that handcrafts our caramel popcorn with the finest ingredients and lots of love. Our popcorn line includes nine flavors that come in four sizes. Some of our best selling flavors include Cinnamon-Apple, Buttered Rum, Chipotle, Bourbon Pecan and Chesapeake.
We are often compared to other popcorn companies in the DC area and even in the nation. We find ourselves explaining that Popcorn Queens cannot be compared to other companies because we provide a very unique popcorn experience. First, all of our popcorn has a caramel base but comes in different flavors. Second, we are more than just popcorn; many of our flavors are infused with nuts and dried fruit. Finally, our popcorn has an amazing shelf life. When stored properly in our tubs or resealable bags, it stays fresh for 4-6 weeks, making it the perfect edible gift.
What’s your story? What motivated you to become a small food business owner?
Even though Popcorn Queens has only been in business for a a little over a year, Bonnie has been making her gourmet caramel popcorn for over a decade. It was a treat that she made around the holidays for her family and coworkers. All my life, I (April-the daughter) watched people go crazy over my Mom’s popcorn. I even approached my mom a few years back about selling it, but she declined.
It turned out that my Mom’s entrepreneurial spirit hadn’t kicked in yet, but about 3 years ago, I knew that I wanted to explore the culinary arts as a career. Because I love cooking, I figured the next logical step would be to start a catering company. I ultimately needed help and for some reason, when I asked my Mom to assist me with this venture, she was open to it. We catered together for about 6-8 months when, as a final attempt to share her magical popcorn with the world, I had my Mom make a batch for a cocktail party I booked. After this party, I received more calls about the popcorn than I did the food, and we even got a rather large order right on the spot. This order finally helped me prove to my Mom that popcorn could be a lucrative business.
And with that, Bonnie got on board, we worked together to create and test new and unique flavors and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do you love about being a small food business owner?
What we love most about being food business owners is interacting with people and seeing how our product can instantly make people happy. People love popcorn! We especially love when customers use our popcorn as a gift. During the holidays it was so touching creating and printing gift cards, reading how people were using our popcorn to spread love and joy all over the nation. Not everyone gets to make and sell something that truly can make people happy and we feel lucky that we are able to do that.
What Is Next For Us — Where is your business heading?
We feel that 2015 is going to be a big year for us. This will be the year that you will walk into local DC food stores and see Popcorn Queens on the shelf. We also are trying to build relationships with local theaters, sporting arenas and event planners so that when you think of popcorn in the The District, you think of us. We also plan to find a few farmer’s markets in the area where we will vend regularly in the spring/summer and we will continue to host “Pop Up Shops” as we did last year.
Big picture though, we are hoping to someday open our own shop. Our dream is to find the perfect space where we can both design a kitchen to meet our needs and have a small storefront to service customers.
Any Awards/Acclaim — Have you been highlighted in any articles? If so include the links so we can leave people in awe of how amazing you are.
Our most recent moment of acclaim was January 15th, when we were mentioned in the Washington Post Express for National Popcorn Day. Dining editor Holley Simmons listed us as one way to celebrate the holiday in DC.
Our product has also been reviewed on the Popcorn Face Blog. “Popcorn Face” claims to eat popcorn everyday and to have tasted more popcorn than anyone in the world. We sent him our product and he gave us quite a favorable review.
Lastly, at the end of 2013, we made our first television appearance on News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live. The title of the segment was “Entertaining with Popcorn for New Years Eve.”
Here are the links to the posts for you to enjoy: