ASTORIA — Caffeine and canines. Those are two of the things Astoria resident Natassa Contini loves best — and they're also the focus of her new venture, an Astoria shop that's both a cafe and a high-end pet market.
Chateau Le Woof opened last week at 14th Street and 30th Avenue.
Half of the retail space features a coffee bar that serves up espresso drinks and will soon offer a to-go menu of organic salads and sandwiches. The other side sells food, treats, toys and other goodies for her customers' four-legged friends.
"My two favorite things: coffee and dogs," said Contini, who said she started working with animals about a year ago after a career running restaurants and nightclubs.
"I wanted to do something on my own...and thought, how cool would it be to do both?"
The store also sells raw dog food by the plate, including meats like lamb and venison, which range in price from $5 to $10.
"A lot of people like to feed their dogs raw, but don't necessarily like handling the ick factor," she said. "So we'll do it for them."
For humans, the shop serves coffee and espresso drinks using beans from La Colombe Coffee Roasters and will start selling food next week that will include organic salads, sandwiches and smoothies which are made and packaged off-site and will be sold to-go. The cafe has free WiFi as well as seats and small couches.
Because of state and city regulations, dogs are not actually allowed inside the store, though Contini said they're exploring their options to see if they can make it happen, including possibly adding a glass partition that would separate the two spaces.
Until then, customers who bring their pooches will be able to tie them to doggie door knockers Contini plans to install outside, where she said she'll be putting down faux grass to serve as a waiting area for the pups.
In addition to the store itself, Contini does pet-sitting, dog walking and grooming off-site, and is eventually hoping to open an even larger space nearby that would include all those services as well as an indoor dog run.
For now, she said the store plans to work with local animal groups to feature a rescue dog of the month in an effort to get more homeless pets adopted.
"I have a rescue, so that's my soft spot," said Contini, who owns a 13-year-old pit bull.
"Anything that we can do to help, because there are so many dogs that need to get placed."
Chateau Le Woof is located at 30-02 14th St., and is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.