The Washington Post

Lost Dog Cafe to open fifth location this fall

Dave Seldomridge, manager at the Stray Cat Cafe in Arlington, and Pam McAlwee, owner of the cafe and the nearby Lost Dog Cafe. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)

Lost Dog Cafe, a chain of popular Virginia pizzerias, is opening a location in Alexandria’s Braddock neighborhood, the company is expected to announced soon.

The Braddock restaurant will be the company’s fifth, and its first in Alexandria.

“Braddock is a great fit for us,” co-founder Pam McAlwee said. “Everyone loves walking and they love their dogs.”

The restaurant, scheduled to open in September, will also have a pet-friendly outdoor seating area. McAlwee plans to partner with nearby bakeries to offer a menu for dogs.

Lost Dog Cafe has long been involved in animal rescue efforts. In 2001, the company founded the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit that has helped 28,000 dogs and cats to date. The Lost Dog & Cat Ranch in Sumerduck, Va., houses many of the abandoned pets until they find a home.

“We have always had a real compassion for homeless animals” McAlwee said. “We wanted to help them through our cafe.”

The cafe got its beginnings 29 years ago as a sandwich and pizza carryout shop in Westover. McAlwee and her business partner, Ross Underwood, both worked at the Dulles Airport Marriott — he was a manager, she a bartender and waitress — when they decided to start their own business.

They scraped together $30,000 in loans and rented a small storefront in Westover. There was one oven that could bake two pizzas at a time.

After a successful 14-year run, McAlwee and Underwood expanded the eatery to include sit-down dining and renamed their venture Lost Dog Cafe in 1999.

Sales have been rising steadily since then, McAlwee said. Last year, annual revenue grew 18 percent.

The cafe is also mulling another location in the Fairfax area. Eventually, McAlwee said, they may move into Maryland and the District.

Abha Bhattarai is a business reporter for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg Times.
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