'Dogs have it good in Laguna'

What Whole Foods is to people, Naked Dog Bistro is for pooches.

The canine-centric store opened in Laguna Beach on Forest Avenue across from City Hall early last week. The space boasts a sleek, modern interior with a shiny black floor and a variety of merchandise, including gluten-free treats, leashes, bowls and luxurious beds (one of the latter in the shape of a Ferrari).

Charlotte Bloom, 60, of Dana Point, and her daughter Lindsay Poe, 24, of Newport Beach, hatched the idea over lunch in June and opened the shop about nine months later.

"I asked her what she wanted to do with the rest of her life and what was her passion," Bloom said. "She said, 'Dogs, health and baking.' So I thought, 'How could we combine them?'"

The name was a joint effort.

"My daughter thought about anything fresh and natural and 'Naked' came up," Bloom said. "We looked at domain names and 'naked dog' was already taken so we needed an additional word."

Bloom came up with "bistro" to denote an upscale feel.

They chose downtown Laguna for its ample foot traffic, but wanted to be away from Coast Highway.

Bloom and Poe put their talents together in forming the business. Bloom handled interior design while Poe used her graphic design background to create the logo, which features a silhouette of Hayley, Bloom's 4-year-old Weimaraner.

Word of the opening spread, and Bloom found herself at the store March 6 buying ingredients to make peanut butter, carob and beet "Pupcakes," which are topped with peanuts.

Poe and Bloom make all of the food.

Humans can eat the products but probably wouldn't enjoy them because they lack added sugar or salt, Bloom said.

Poe said what differentiates the food in her store is that it is never frozen and gluten-free.

One of the more intriguing items is a chewy treat made with milk from Himalayan yaks. Workers add lime juice to the milk and allow the liquid to curdle. The curds dry in the sun until they harden, forming the treat.

Naked Dog Bistro is a few blocks away from another downtown store dedicated to dogs — Anything Canine, which offers full-service grooming along with canine clothing, collars, bedding and treats.

Dog food has come a long way in the last decade, said Jessica Madrid, owner of Coast Pet Supply & Grooming, which opened 10 years ago along North Coast Highway.

Treats may include "exotic meats," such as pheasant, buffalo and venison, while other food caters to dogs with certain allergies, Madrid said. Coast also sells gluten-free items.

Dogs have it good in Laguna, and Bloom said that's the way it should be.

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