Written by Aaron-Michael Fox.

It’s no secret that Huntingtonians love our pets. Huntington’s win in PetSafe’s nationwide dog park contest in 2011 was perhaps our most publicized achievement, but many human residents are spending extra time every day making sure the animals in the Jewel City are living the best lives possible.

Two such humans are Susan Ballard and David Beckett, owners of The Bodega, a market and cafe located on the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in downtown Huntington.

100% of The Bodega’s dessert proceeds go to local animal rescue efforts. Photo: The Bodega.

Currently, one hundred percent of The Bodega’s dessert proceeds go to local animal rescue efforts. But Ballard and Beckett will soon be taking things to the next level with a weekly “Yappy Hour” special on Fridays where they will encourage patrons to bring their dogs for dinner. It will be a chance for our four legged friends to meet and socialize over some delicious treats along with their human companions.

Yappy Hour comes from the mind of Ballard, who is a Huntington native, but spent a lot of her life in southeastern Florida before moving back to Huntington to be close to her granddaughter. Her concept came partly out of that Florida experience.

“The idea for yappy hour comes from my Florida background,” Ballard said. “After work happy hours are everywhere. Dogs are everywhere. Happy hours with people bringing their dogs are everywhere. In October, I was in Ashville [North Carolina]. Again, dogs were everywhere. I started thinking how much I missed that cool and casual vibe that having dogs around seems to facilitate. That’s when Yappy Hour hit me. Why not do something to bring animal lovers together? People and pets can make new friends, mingle and also do some good for animals in need!”

While the full plan is still being finalized, the Yappy Hour menu is expected to feature several animal-friendly foods and some “Me and My Human” pairings such as meatloaf (in sandwich melt form for humans), cheesy scrambled eggs, and chicken stew. A portion of the Yappy Hour sales will also go to Little Victories Animal Rescue Shelter.

“As an animal lover and owner of four rescues, I started selling all of our desserts with 100% of the money going to local rescues in need about a year and a half ago in memory of my dog Daisy,” Ballard said. “Through the Daisy Fund, we have been able to donate over $4,000 to local rescue groups to pay vet bills, buy food, provide transportation, or whatever is needed. I believe in giving back to the community that is now my home. We do a lot of stuff for organizations helping people in the community, but I’ll admit the animals in need of rescue and adoption have a special place in my heart.”

A German Grilled Cheese with buffalo chips. Photo: Aaron-Michael Fox.

The Bodega has been offering locally sourced, artisan foods with a rotating seasonal menu since February 2015.

Since Ballard and Beckett believe in using as many local ingredients as possible, the menu rotates seasonally as produce becomes available.

The current menu for humans features such offerings as the German Grilled Cheese sandwich (grilled smoked sausage, cheddar cheese, house made sauerkraut, caramelized onion, and brown mustard); The Hawaiian (hand sliced pork loin, caramelized grilled pineapple, cheddar cheese, grilled jalapenos topped with sweet & “sassy” barbeque sauce on grilled Hawaiian bread); and the Bahn Mi (shredded pork, pickled carrots, cucumber, onions, and fresh spinach on an onion roll)…just to name a few.

The Saturday breakfast menu is packed with new takes on familiar favorites like the New York sandwich (smoked salmon with cream cheese, red onion, and capers on a grilled onion roll); the Huevos Rancheros Quesadilla (pulled pork, house salsa, cheddar cheese, avocado sauce and eggs in a grilled tortilla); and the Ultimate (egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, and strawberry jam on toast).

The Bodega will switch to their new summer menu on May 1, but there will always be a few staples. “The first year that we were open we let the customers vote which sandwich to save full-time,” Olivia Perry, daughter of Susan Ballard, told the Herald-Dispatch in 2016. “The ones that were saved were the Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Pesto, and the Ham, Swiss, Bacon, Apple, and Fig Jam.”

The Bodega’s market also features more than 170 beer and wine varieties including many local and imported craft beers.

The Bodega is located at 335 Ninth Street and open Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. To find out more, go to TheBodegaWV.com or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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