By CAT ROBERTSON
People are going barking mad for Black Dog Shoppe, the new store in Green Valley Lake, which opened Fourth of July weekend. The prime location, with a beautiful view of the lake, is just one of the terrific aspects of the new business. The shop serves coffee, homemade baked goods that include vegan and gluten-free options, an array of unique items for the home you won’t readily find anywhere else, and jewelry crafted by a talented local artisan.
The COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into Roxanne Dean and Brad Runsick’s plan to open a restaurant and shop in downtown Green Valley Lake. They decided to open the shop and get a cottage food license which allows them to sell homemade baked goods.
Dean said they specialize in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. You’ll find cookies, including snickerdoodles, madeleines, biscotti, peanut brittle, butter toffee/peppermint pretzels, licorice and other delectable sweet and savory snacks.
“I know there’s a large vegan community here, and I’m one of them,” Dean said. “We just don’t have anywhere to go. We specialize in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. The restaurant, when we open, will have a whole vegan menu with regular menu options, too.”
Dean said Black Dog Shoppe has been very busy early in the day with people coming by for their morning cup of joe.
“Sunday mornings are our consistently busy time,” Dean commented. “So far, a lot is from the Airbnb crowd and day-trippers, but we see a lot of locals, too.” There’s seating outside so patrons can enjoy the amazing view while sipping their favorite brew.
Dean does the baking herself “in all of my spare time,” she noted with a chuckle. She added that they will probably expand the menu later but, for now, they will keep it the way it is.
“When COVID started, we had to come up with another plan, so we got the shop going and decided to wait on the bar/bistro,” she explained. “We’re anticipating opening the restaurant in the spring. It depends on COVID and the county.”
Dean said they will serve bistro-type food, mostly light healthy fare and, “of course, half of our menu will be vegan and we’ll have burgers, but we want to have something different than what is already up here.”
Right now, they are working on getting a beer and wine license and will feature craft beers and boutique wines. Once their license is issued, they will expand their hours on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. They expect to have the license in the very near future.
In addition to the baked goods, shoppers will find mountain and lake-themed items for the home. “We have unique signs, coffee-related items, coffee accessories,” Dean said. “Anything you would find in the home section at any unique store. I buy whatever catches my eye and is cute and unique. We’re constantly restocking the shelves.”
Dean said they plan to have their website up when they open the restaurant. Currently you can find them on Facebook and Instagram at @blackdoggrillandshoppe.
“We have tons of followers,” she mentioned. “I’m really surprised. Everyone who walks in says it’s so beautiful and a gift to our community. I’m surprised by that and so honored.”
Runsick and Dean bought their house in Green Valley Lake in January 2018 and were part-time residents until they decided to move here permanently in October 2019. He is a clinical supervisor, working with autistic children, and she is a licensed landscape contractor/designer.
Dean designed the interior and exterior of the shop as well as the landscaping. She is a three-time winner of the “best landscaper/design awards” in the Long Beach/Lakewood area. She is close to completing her master’s degree in landscape architecture. Her business is called Star Exterior and Landscape Design, and she is now working in the mountain area.
Runsick explained what led them to move to the mountain. “We developed a lot of friendships up here and Roxanne grew up coming here with her family. She learned how to ski in Green Valley Lake. Her dad always dreamed of owning a place up here. It was kind of a lifelong dream for her to see fulfilled.
“I grew up spending summers hanging out in old buildings like this one,” he continued. “It brings back a lot of childhood memories. It has that feel, like when I grew up as a child, and I love it.”
Kym Browning began making jewelry in 1998. Her designs include necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and keychains. Her business is called Falling Leaf Studio, and her jewelry is featured at Black Dog Shoppe.
When asked about the inspiration for her jewelry, Browning said, “I have enough ideas for two lifetimes.” Her top-seller is the 5X’s bead wrap bracelet. “I’ve sold several hundred of these. It can also be worn as a necklace.”
Browning makes them using upholstery thread which she crochets with a tiny needle. She uses glass beads she blows herself. When looking at her collection, you’ll notice she’s got a great variety of beads and charms for her jeweled creations.
She recently began metalsmithing and makes sterling silver rings with turquoise, black onyx stones and labradorite—a stone which creates a dazzling optical phenomenon of a blue-green to deep blue sheen that shimmers in the light. It’s an iridescent optical effect known as labradorescence.
“This is my next 20 years. I have drawers full of stones,” she said. Her imagination is overflowing with ideas.
Iris, the store’s mascot, is a beautiful seven-month-old jet-black golden retriever/shepherd mix puppy. Star was the original black dog but she passed away several months ago. Dean said it wasn’t long after they lost Star that they adopted Iris.
“Star was my baby and now Iris is my baby,” she said. “She’s a good shop dog. She loves everybody and every animal. She wants to be friends with everyone.”
Currently, Black Dog Shoppe, located at 33231 Green Valley Lake Road, is open Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will also be open on Mondays during holiday weekends. Once their beer and wine license is issued, they will be open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Beer and wine will be sold to-go only. It cannot be consumed on the premises. For more information, call (909) 939-0379.