In the Tuckahoe Shopping Center area, there used to be a noticeably missing element to the community. There is a drugstore, a beauty salon, a handful of restaurants, a hardware store, and a gas station. However, the neighborhood lacked a crucial element: good coffee and ice cream. One could get their coffee fix at Starbucks. However, that is often out of the way for the morning commuter. Thus, ShoreDog Café came into existence. As ShoreDog owner Gibbs Moody says, “We identify the fact that there is no really good coffee in this area. There is a Starbucks at River Road, there is a Starbucks at Libbie and Grove, and there is a Starbucks at the Village Shopping Center. But, if you lived west of any of those areas and you’re trying to go downtown for work in the morning, they’re all on the wrong side of the road and you have to do a u-turn to get to them, and there is really poor parking. We thought if we could provide good coffee at a location such as the Tuckahoe Shopping Center, then that would be a service for the neighborhood.”
ShoreDog, Moody’s first restaurant, opened this past October. The café serves Lamplighter coffee, Homestead Creamery ice cream, and fresh, organic food and pastries. Moody says, “I have a passion for coffee and a passion for food, and I looked at this place and said ‘You know, I bet I could marry coffee, ice cream and really good food’.” ShoreDog prides itself in the quality of their products. Lamplighter Coffee is an ethically sourced, fair trade coffee roasting company that Moody partnered with to ensure a high standard of coffee was found in his café.
For a morning coffee fix, customers can order an assortment of different coffee drinks, ranging from a straight black coffee to espressos or affogato, a mix of ice cream and espresso. Other options, such as tea and hot chocolate, are available to non-coffee drinkers. Moody says, “We try to identify what would go along with really good fair trade coffee, and we thought a farm-to-table concept with food, with organics and locally grown products, would be a wonderful compliment to the quality of coffee we are serving from Lamplighter.”
ShoreDog’s food selection includes breakfast and lunch options that are reasonably priced. Breakfast and bagel sandwiches, egg breakfasts, and a la carte items are available alongside the freshly baked pastries on display, all under eight dollars. The menu has many vegetarian friendly options; one can construct an omelet with tofu or add a tofu patty to a breakfast sandwich. Gluten-free bread is available as well. The lunch menu consists of salads and sandwiches with a la carte items such as Goat Cheese and Cheddar Grits. Many meat options are free range or organic, reflecting ShoreDog’s commitment to offer organic products.
In my opinion, perhaps the strongest aspect of ShoreDog is that fact that it sells ice cream. When creating ShoreDog, Moody recognized the lack of ice cream in the area and decided to include it in his café. Moody says, “Following that same sort of concept of farm-to-table and really good organic food, we selected Homestead Creamery for our ice cream brand, which is a locally-grown Virginia product. It’s two families in Burnt Chimney, Virginia that produce this wonderful organic ice cream that we are carrying here. So that’s the concept: good coffee, good food, good ice cream.”
A focus on the quality of its products drives ShoreDog, and the hope is that the customers have a great culinary experience. But ShoreDog wants to be more. “We view ShoreDog as a neighborhood connecter, a place where people can come and eat, a little like what country stores used to be. Country stores used to be a social gathering spot for the neighborhood, where the neighborhood could go and interact with one another. And we think we’ve got that opportunity here.”
ShoreDog has already completed this goal. Upon entering the café, one can see a group of neighborhood moms planning a fundraiser, a couple sipping on coffee together, a businessman chatting with the barista, and a family eating breakfast. For the student, ShoreDog is an attractive location for homework or breakfast with friends; the fast service and large availability of seating lets you dine with ease, and the decor and atmosphere put you at ease. Acoustic music can be heard playing in the background as you eat and that, paired with the calming color scheme, gives the customer a sense of attunement, just as Moody envisioned. “ShoreDog is a state of mind. If you have ever seen a dog walking along a shore, whether it’s the shore along the U. of R. lake or on the James River or on the beach, you know every movement is very precise, every sense is attuned to what’s going on a sense of hearing, smell, touch, everything is in a heightened sense, and we think that’s what we want to do here at the cafe, we want to serve really great food that appeals to everybody’s sensory pleasure. That’s what ShoreDog is.”
All photos by Georgia Beazley.