When Tom Cash and husband Mike Zukoski opened a coffee shop in Asheville, North Carolina, they named it after their prized Pug, Edna. The idea of a business owner looking to a pet for titular inspiration might not be a revelatory one, but in Edna’s case it was apt after the dog got caught trying to sneak sips of coffee while Tom and Mike weren’t looking.
These days, if you stop by Edna’s of Asheville, you will likely see Edna holding court on the patio while customers slurp their way through cups of java.
Taking a break from his bean-roasting duties, I spoke to Mike about the origins of this coffee adventure, Edna’s own java antics, and how the coffee shop works with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.
Dogster: When did Edna come into your life?
Mike Cash: We got her in Long Beach when we lived in California, before we moved to Asheville. We had two Golden Retrievers that were littermates, and Tom decided we’d like another dog in the house, so we got Edna. Then, of course, we discovered that she loves coffee! She really goes crazy for coffee. I remember when we left a coffee mug on the table and saw her getting into the coffee.
So when we decided to move to Asheville to reinvent our lives, we opened up a coffeehouse and called it Edna’s, named after the Pug.
When did you first realize that Edna likes to sneak sips of coffee?
She was probably not even a year old, still a puppy. We drink coffee without any sugar in it, and we found out she really likes Americanos and sometimes coffee with a little cream. But she only drank coffee a couple times before we caught her — we don’t let her drink coffee, but she did enjoy it when we were not looking.
Do you think Edna is a coffee snob at heart?
Oh, yeah, for sure. We roast our own coffee [at Bad Puppy Roasting] twice a week, and she definitely knows if the coffee is fresh or not. She’s pretty good about it. For instance, she’s in the shop on a regular basis — not every day, but she’s around — and she checks up on people. She loves visiting with people while they have their coffee. She loves to dress up — she has a couple of dresses that were made specifically for her. In our second year at Christmastime, we put [her in] one of those red and white muffs with a little belt on it, and she got excited and ran around, and then when we attempted to take it off of her, she would become depressed. She ended up wearing it until nearly March!
Do any other customers buy coffee for their dogs?
I don’t know if too many people order coffee for their dogs, but we do have a drive-through area, and every dog in the drive-through gets a Milk-Bone. It’s pretty funny when you get to know who the regular customers are because their dogs are at the window for their cookie while they’re waiting in line. They learn that they’re gonna get their cookie pretty quickly. Then, if you come to the patio area, for every dog that comes in, there are always water bowls and free cookies laid out for them.
If Edna was in charge of the coffee shop for a day, what changes would she make?
Well, we can’t actually allow dogs inside the restaurant because of the health code, so we have a big patio, but Edna would definitely let dogs in for the day, and they would get to order from the proper counter. She’d really want a walk-up counter for the dogs.
You’re also involved with the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue organization. How did that come about?
When we started the coffee shop, we really wanted to be active in the neighborhood and the community, so we wanted to work with a charity, and because we love animals and own a coffee shop named after a dog, it was logical for us to work with an animal organization. Brother Wolf is spectacular — they do such good work. We do pet adoption days at Edna’s, and a couple of times a month, we do meet-up days for people with their dogs, just to give people a chance to socialize their dogs and meet with other people. Then we also do pet-food drives twice a year to help get food and supplies for Brother Wolf.
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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.