An unusual dog treat born when a rottweiler dropped a business idea into his owner's lap four years ago is being turned out of a bakehouse in .
Cohiba's Beer Bones, made from the nutrient-rich, hardy and apparently tasty by-products of beer brewing, leave the ovens at Mack and Maryland and end up on the shelves of dozens of metro Detroit stores.
Locally, Cohiba's Beer Bones can be found at businesses such as , , , and others.
The bones are named after Cohiba, the dog that decided to lap up the leftovers of a batch of homebrew made by owner Ryan Wilcox.
The leftovers that normally wound up in the trash instead became the main ingredient for the bones and the start of a business.
"She started munching on it. She really liked it. We started thinking we could do something with this," says Monique Fekin, Wilcox's wife as of a few months ago and mom to Cohiba.
Wilcox and Fekin, who now live in Birmingham, started dating two weeks after Wilcox adopted adopted Cohiba from a rottweiler rescue group in Chicago several years ago.
Every aspect of beer bones is tied to a green philosophy, from the use of the grains that would become garbage to packaging that is made of recycled materials and printed with a wax based ink rather than by plastic printer cartridges. Cohiba's mug graces the front of the packages.
"Every day we learn something different about our own product, how we can do things better," says Fekin. One thing they've learned - in case you're wondering - is that beer bones aren't intoxicating for dogs. And, they are made of ingredients approved for human consumption. Insider's tip: People do eat them, some with jam or other toppings, Fekin says.
She also says she and Wilcox are still amazed at how their orders have gone from family and friends and friends of friends to thousands and thousands of strangers. And it's more amazing, she says, considering they launched the business in a struggling economic time.
"Moving back to Michigan gave us the opportunity to do something with the business…It was 2008 right when economy bottomed out," Fekin recalls. Fekin was originally from Michigan; Wilcox from New York but had a brother and his family living in Michigan.
"Through recessions I feel like some of the best businesses were born…IBM other big businesses you might never think of started in recessions," Fekin says.
She says fellow business owners have helped Cohiba's Beer Bones succeed.
"One thing with the pet business is people are so friendly…Pointe Pets in Grosse Pointe Park, she gave us advice, tips," she says. "It's been a great experience."