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Meet Kara Beron, the Harford County woman who makes waffles as dogs treats

Seven years ago, Kara Beron was in a bind. Her three dogs — a Husky-Lab mix, a Japanese Chin-Pomeranian mix and a Boston Terrier — were having trouble digesting treats she bought them. It always ended in a mess, so she bought a waffle iron with the intent of making her own preservative-free treats that went down easier for the three. Now, she makes them professionally.

“If you would have told me seven years ago I was going to be the waffle lady and make this kind of money I would have laughed,” the Forest Hill resident said.

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Ever since Beron was young, she liked to bake sweet treats, but when she started passing out the waffle treats as gifts to friends with dogs, they urged her to try selling them.

As an experiment, she took about 10 bags each of her only three flavors at the time — peanut butter, bacon and cheese — to a Baltimore flea market to see if they would sell. In 10 minutes, they were all gone, she said, and through the smell of home-cooked waffles, Beron caught a whiff of opportunity.

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"I said, ‘Oh my gosh, maybe this could be kind of a weekend thing,’” she said. “I was bringing in three to four grand just on the weekends.”

So Kara’s K9 Waffle Treats was born. At the time, Beron was working as a surgical veterinary technician at Festival Veterinary Clinic in Bel Air, and the job gave her the expertise to know what her canine clientele wanted so she could adjust her recipes to their medical needs.

The need for natural dog treats was also compounded by reports that Chinese-produced treats caused a host of health issues in dogs.

She carried on baking at home, attending progressively larger events in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania where she would sell her waffles, until she saw her dining room begin to disappear under 25-pound bags of flour. That, she said, is when she knew she had to do something.

Last October, she began renting a storefront in a repurposed ice cream shop at the corner of Route 24 and West Jarrettsville Road in Forest Hill, where she now sells over 35 flavors — not counting seasonal recipes — ranging from bacon, egg and cheese to the creatively-named named “Unicorn Magic,” which is made with marshmallow fluff and blueberries among other ingredients.

Beron had to go to part-time at the vet clinic to keep up with demand, and she is currently searching for an industrial iron that can churn more out in less time.

She only makes the treats with natural ingredients, often sourced locally to support local farmers. Because the waffle treats are baked, they need to be eaten in two days or frozen and reheated. It’s not an inconvenience, though, because frozen waffles make excellent chew toys, she said, and not just for dogs.

Some customers ask if they can eat the treats too — they can. Others specifically buy them for their children.

“I have got toddlers who come in, and they are teething and they get these waffles,” Beron said.

When the coronavirus hit Maryland, she closed up shop for a time, but was able to reopen using the takeout window on her store, which used to be Wilson’s Corner Deli, to serve customers. She also teamed up with White Tiger Distillery, which began making hand sanitizer in the earlier stages of the pandemic. She also sold masks, which helped drive business.

Beyond her store operations, she and others in Harford County became “wine fairies” — delivering wine and, in Beron’s case, waffles — to addresses throughout the county during the pandemic. She had been hoping just to make ends meet and pay her rent on the shop, but she has fared well through the pandemic. Her website also hosts an online store.

The shop, which also sells other dog-related items, is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. She does not have a lot of free time between her work as a vet tech and baker, but the work is its own reward.

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It is not grating “when you love what you do,” she said.

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