A storefront sign, “Le Café Terrier,” near the La Paloma theater isn’t so much for customers as it is for fellow dog lovers who share Ron Friedman’s dream of opening a canine deli.
Friedman owns the building and is prepared to set up the business.
“I’m waiting for the right person to run with the idea,” he said. “Call me.”
He envisions that half of the store would have freezers in which to store raw foods, bones and meat treats. He’s already purchased the units, along with a meat hook.
For the last few years Friedman has been traveling to pet-industry trade shows, developing a line of private-label dog bowls, baseball hats, refrigerator magnets and buttons. Each is emblazoned with a catchy “Adopt A Dog” logo along with individual messages such as “Your Best Friend,” “Meet New People” and “Pure Breed? Pure Mutt!”
Another signature item he carries are note cards bearing vintage photos of people, including Queen Elizabeth as a child, with their pet pooches.
Friedman wants to decorate the shop with a “dog clock” he has that operates on the principle of hours, not minutes, along with an array of city-licensed dog tags he’s collected over the years.
His concept is to make Le Café Terrier strictly for dogs, with in-house dining, while owners sit and wait for them enjoying, yes, fresh water. The cafe would also double as a meet-up venue for rescue groups.
Friedman’s got a second dog-friendly concept: a mobile, retro-fitted horse trailer with Le Café Terrier in mind that could be parked on the grounds of a local shelter. Half of the profits would go to the shelter, and half to Friedman.
“Some volunteers could take turns managing it,” he explained. “Others could bring dogs out on a leash to get fresh air. People will see them, and maybe want to adopt. It takes up one parking space and would also be ideal for special events.”
For Friedman, his preoccupation with raising money for rescue dogs began 10 years ago with Jazz, a terrier he adopted from a shelter in Los Angeles.
“After 40 years I decided that it was time to get a dog,” he remembers. Sadly, Friedman was visiting a small town when Jazz bolted and was killed by a passing truck in front of his eyes.
Friedman said afterwards, he wasn’t ready for another dog.
“I’m not a religious guy, but if there is a God he gave me a second chance with Harris,” he said. Today, Harris still travels with Friedman along with Cobey, also a white terrier, and Ocha, a black terrier.
Friedman is smitten with terriers because of their small stature and large personalities.
“I’m with my dogs 24/7 and they are great,” he said. “I run into people who see them and say, ‘Oh, I had a dog like that.’ They miss them so much. It’s like a secret society.”
Friedman’s dream is still “in process.” As enthused as he is about his business model, he draws the line when it comes to being tied down. Although he spends a lot of time in San Diego, he loves to travel and return to his permanent home in Santa Fe, New Mexico where old friends like Barbara Zook keep the home fires burning.
“Ron has a passion for dogs, their beauty and spirits, that is unparalleled even by humans,” she explained. “His way of making a difference in the world is by being there for dogs.”