Folks in canine-loving Austin might not often think "This town needs something just for dogs." But that's what went through Lara Enzor's mind one day last fall when she was passing through one of the city's many food trailer courts. She saw trucks offering tacos, Indian food and various culinary mashups for humans and nothing for our four-legged friends. That spark of a thought became Bow-Wow Chow, Enzor's food truck that caters just to dogs, which Enzor says is a first for Austin's mobile food scene.
"It's kind of like an ice cream truck for dogs," says Enzor, who encourages owners to let their dogs come right up to the counter window for their treats, which come in minimal to no packaging to lessen the environmental impact. A single treat — all natural, preservative free and locally made in Austin — with a bottle of water is $1, three treats are $2 and the best-selling six-pack is $3. The Elvis special ($2) comes with one peanut butter treat, one banana treat and a water. Enzor also is offering a limited number of VIP leash tags for $10. Good through the end of the year, the tag can be used to get a treat when you don't have any cash in your pockets.
"If the dog's happy, the employee's happy and everybody's smiling," says Enzor, who already has a proven entrepreneurial record, having worked for several large pharmaceutical companies before opening her own business monitoring pharmaceutical trials.
Enzor, who grew up in Abilene and has a biology and chemistry background and degree, trusted her gut as she turned thought into action. In December, she found a former snow cone truck for sale in Florida on eBay and Craigslist, and she bought it sight unseen because she trusted the sound of the owner's voice on the other end of the phone. Despite having 100,000 miles on it, the truck "is a pleasure to drive and purrs like a kitten," Enzor says.
She didn't have to do much to the interior, which was already outfitted with sink, storage and even a freezer (she's working with Groovy Dog to add ice cream to the menu). She sold most of the snow cone equipment — she kept the commercial hot dog machine, a hit at a recent party — and with the help of Full Moon Design, she had the exterior tricked out to reflect the new business. Her inspiration? Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine. Yes, she wants people to smile and laugh when they see the truck parked or driving down the road.
Two of the dogs on the truck's cheery and colorful design were inspired by Enzor's own 15-year-old fox terrier, Dottie, and Penny, a 3-ish miniature pinscher adopted from Austin Pets Alive. Rescue groups also are part of Enzor's business plan, which is built on community and giving back. A portion of every sale goes to APA, and she plans to rotate the beneficiary group by month. Interested rescue groups can contact Enzor through her website (http://bow-wowchow.com), on which she also wants people to post photos or videos of their dogs at the truck.
So far, Enzor and her two employees have had the truck at Norwood Estate dog park on Saturday mornings and at dog meetups and other special events. "We've been so well-received," she says, "and we have some regular customers already."
She's looking forward to later this month, when Bow-Wow Chow has its official launch party as part of a trial run at Auditorium Shores. After negotiations with the city, Enzor was granted a one-week permit to park at the popular dog-gathering spot from July 28 to Aug. 4. Enzor plans to have the truck there from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day that week. Then she'll see where the truck will go next.
"Wherever there's a gathering of dogs, we would like to bring the party to them," Enzor says.
Contact Sharon Chapman at 445-3647