By Clint Parker
Alexander – When Christie Willett Stewart’s dog was diagnosed with liver disease in January, 2020, she was informed their adored and loved family dog Jack, would need a special diet. The veterinarian recommended an expensive prescription kibble or an alternative option for her to begin making his food.
Right then and there, the catalyst for a new business was formed. Sadly, Jack would pass away, but the food that was inspired by him and his special dietary needs lives on (#forJack). Now, Waggin Meals has announced they have opened a storefront on their family property, after a successful launch of their home-based gourmet dog food business.
Stewart, 45, and a native to Buncombe County said, “After a tremendous amount of research and advisement from other dog professionals,” she created delicious human-grade meals and treats to maximize premium health benefits for dogs.
She said her “goal was to develop a greater awareness of the ways in which food and food quality affect the health of dogs and the well being of their life. She is very passionate about teaching dog owners that a majority of kibble triggers allergies and serious health issues and has minimal nutritional value.”
According to Stewart, “Waggin Meals has become an increasingly popular option for the local community.” She began making the food in her home and delivering it to her customers. As the business grew, she would sell her food and treats off her porch on Saturdays. Quickly, it became inevitable as her customer base increased, that a bigger kitchen would be needed to produce higher quantities for her growing list of customers.
In addition, Stewart makes natural shampoos, coat conditioners and meal supplements available for sale at her new retail space. Waggin Meals food and treats has no fillers, preservatives or sodium, which is common in today’s commercial kibble dog food.
Her menu is extensive and she works along the side of her daughter, Abby Stewart, 18, who is the creative director of Waggin Meals, and Abby handles the marketing and design. Christie’s husband is Chad Stewart and owns Stewart Sound. She has three other children (boys) and another dog named Little J. Her hometown is Weaverville and is a graduate of North Buncombe High School.
She jokes, “My dad used to say that you should always eat before coming to my house for dinner because I could not cook and my mom was the Paula Dean of the family. They have both passed now, but I bet they are smiling from above.”
Waggin Meals Café and Bakery is open to the public now from Tuesday – Friday 11 am – 6 pm, Saturday 11 am – 3 pm and closed Sunday and Monday. A Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday, August 29th, from 11 am – 5 pm. The storefront will offer meals, treats, special custom bakery items and a boutique pet line of products. Waggin Meals will be offered at the Wagbar in Weaverville and also listed on the Dog Menu at Twisted Laurel in downtown Asheville.
In addition, they offer local deliveries, shipping and have a pickup window at their store. Readers interested in Waggin Meals can visit their website at www.wagginmeals.net or their store at 768 Alexander Road in Alexander. Their phone number is 843.509.9242.