Cafe with dog treats helps Coast into top pet tourism list
A CAFE that includes canine treats on its menu has cinched the Sunshine Coast's position in a list of Australia's mosty pet-friendly destinations.
The Coast came in sixth on a list of destinations that included Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, and Victoria's Great Ocean Road to name a few.
The list, compiled by takeyourpet.com.au, made special mention of places that went the extra mile for people's pups. On the Sunshine Coast it was Mooloolaba cafe The Velo Project that helped earn us the gong.
The Velo Project was singled out for having "its own doggy menu".
Velo is not the only cafe on the coast with a menu for dogs, but it was among the first to adopt one. Co-owner Sarah Nash said the cafe had been doing since she and her husband took it over about two years ago.
The pet menu varied a bit but centred around a core of healthy canine-specific treats, such as the "poochy latte" - lactose free milk with parsley and liver and topped with liver sprinkles.
There was also a doggy donut, a doggy freckle, and a rocky road - all of which were designed to be healthy and delicious to dogs if a fair way removed from the human treats they were named for.
The treats themselves are made by another Sunshine Coast business - Active Pet Products, which specialises in the more conventional pet foods found at pet stores and supermarkets.
Active Pet Products co-owner Russell Gibbons said the cafe food market was a small but growing side of the business and he and his wife, Emma, supplied about 20 cafes around Australia, including several on the Coast.
The Gibbons started supplying specialised cafe foods about two years ago after a careful analysis of worldwide trends.
"The pet industry globally is huge," Mr Gibbons said.
"We looked at the trends in the US and Europe and over there you can take your dog on a plane. We're a long way behind that but we are a nation of pet lovers."
When the couple decided to start selling to cafes, Mr Gibbons said they looked specifically for the sorts of places people were already likely to go to with their dogs, such as The Velo Project.
The appeal of the products to customers lay at least partly in their novelty.
"They want something that looks good enough for a human to eat," Mr Gibbons said.
"If they see a doggy donut or muffin then it looks similar to what we eat and that appeals more than if they're selling little crocodile bites."
While the cafe treats remained a small part of the overall business, Mr Gibbons said they could easily grow big enough to become their primary income.
"The humanisation of pets is a term you hear a lot in the pet industry at the moment," he said.
"You have people effectively replacing having children with pets and then there are people, like us, with children who have pets that they treat like children.
"It's happening all around the world."
Takeyourpet's full list:
1. South Coast, New South Wales
2. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
3. Gold Coast, Queensland
4. Port Stephens, New South Wales
5. Byron Bay/Northen Rivers, New South Wales
6. Sunshine Coast, Queensland
7. Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
8. Tasmania (yes - they just listed the entire state!)
9. Phillip Island/Gippsland, Victoria
10. South West, Western Australia