Beer City Dog Biscuits turns leftovers into livelihood

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The future has become very bright lately for two adult men with disabilities who are building a business on beer leftovers, with the help of their moms.

In the basement of Central Reformed Church just outside downtown Grand Rapids, “brew bakers” Tanis Hooker and Gavin Wilcox are hard at work making thousands of Beer City Dog Biscuits.

“They love it. They have ownership of this,” said Leslie Hooker.

She and Suzanne Wilcox have been friends for years. They both have adult sons with disabilities and have often wondered what their futures would look like, and what they could do for work.

“It was a need in the community and really it’s a crisis, under employment (and) unemployment. And we just really wanted something where they would be part of the entire business,” said Leslie Hooker.

The mothers reached out to Founders Brewing Co. President Dave Engbers with an idea: dog biscuits made from flour, eggs, peanut butter and spent grain from beer brewing.

They got it and business is booming.

Founders stepped up to provide that spent grain and community veterinarians and businesses are carrying the dog biscuits.

“We love a good entrepreneur around here since we’re a three-generation entrepreneurial business ourselves,” said PK Mason, co-owner of Mason Jones.

Mason carries Beer City Dog Biscuits at her store in Breton Village. She says they’ve been a hit with customers.

“They love the product itself. They love the story. It’s just a win-win all the way around,” said Mason.

Four days a week, 24 young adults mix, bake and bag the Beer City treats for man’s best friend. 

Leslie Hooker and Suzanne Wilcox hope the young adults aren’t the only ones learning from this budding business.

“We hope our business gives the community an understanding and also that businesses in West Michigan use us as a model and come and see what we can do and see what they can do,” said Suzanne Wilcox.

Beer City Dog Biscuits serves as vocational training for young adults in the Grand Rapids Public School Transition Center and Ready for Life Building Program, but soon it will be employment. The moms found out Monday Beer City Dog Biscuits will be carried in five West Michigan Pet Supplies Plus stores.



Beer City Dog Biscuit locator

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