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Baked-In Opportunity

Brewhaus Bakery Co. provides vocational training and creates unique dog treats.

Founder and Director Lisa Graham set out to accomplish two distinctive goals when starting Brewhaus Bakery Co.: create a unique and all-natural dog treat and help local young adults with disabilities develop vocational skills through meaningful project-based learning. Although these goals may seem unrelated, it makes sense when exploring Lisa’s background.  

“As a parent of a young adult with a disability, and knowing the challenges to finding employment for this particular group, I had been thinking about some kind of social enterprise to help provide training and employment, not only for my daughter, but for all the other wonderful individuals I had met along her journey,” Lisa explains. 

Brewhaus Bakery Co. has come a long way since they were established six years ago. It all began with dog biscuits, but now they offer other locally sourced items at their new storefront and bakery in Madeira as well.

Lisa Graham found inspiration in 2013 while on vacation to San Diego. One evening she stopped into Coronado Brewing Co. for dinner and discovered they offered dog bones made with craft beer grains. 

“As a lifelong animal lover and momma to many dogs, it was a perfect opportunity and blend of interests,” Lisa shares. 

She was energized by this concept for dog biscuits. She decided to channel her medical background in clinical research, and collaborate with veterinary advisors Dr. Jennie Bard and Dr. Alfred DuBois of Family Animal Hospital, to formulate a new malt grain base. 

“Our recipe is completely all-natural and most ingredients are sourced locally,” Lisa explains. 

Brewhaus Bakery was then established and incorporated as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization in July of 2014. Beginning as a school-based, work-study, vocational training program, they’ve since grown into an employment program via their brick and mortar location. 

Listermann Brewing was an integral early partner, donating grains and collaborating with their program. Since then, they’ve worked with many other regional microbreweries, and have national accounts with Cigar City Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing, and BrewDog USA. 

Mason breweries in particular have a great relationship with Brewhaus through the Mason High School vocational training program, spearheaded by Work Study and Transition Coordinator Keri Thompson.

Keri reflects upon the beginning of her partnership with Brewhaus Bakery Co.: “At that time there wasn’t a bakery, so all the bones were made within school-based vocational training models. It has been a great partnership because it gives many of my students the opportunity to practice a variety of vocational and independent living skills within a real world business model.”

The Common Beer Company, 16 Lots Brewing Company and Sonder Brewing, all out of Mason, work closely with Keri to ensure the freshest spent grain is available to turn into dog bones.

“My students have also had opportunities throughout the last several years to sell the dog bones at community events such as My Furry Valentine in Sharonville, Transition Bootcamp, Mason's ORCA farmer's market and the Mason Community Center's Shop Local events,” Keri shares. 

The members of the storefront baking team have access to many learning and work opportunities, including experience with the commercial bake space and a point of sale system to ring up customer purchases. In addition, the employees package and weigh product, count product for orders and pack for delivery.

Laura Hawke’s daughter, Claudia, has worked with Brewhaus since high school and continues enjoying her work with them at age 22. 

“We are so appreciative of the opportunities that working at Brewhaus has given Claudia,” Laura tells us. “Claudia has been able to earn her own money, interact with people, build social skills, grow confidence, have a sense of purpose and perform tasks that she enjoys. She loves her Brewhaus family, and enjoys working there because the people are nice, she likes learning how to bake, and she loves helping dogs by making treats for them.”

At the time of contact for this article, The Brewhaus Bakery storefront location remains closed to the public due to concerns for bakers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. They are, however, taking orders for special dog cakes and treats and continue to bake for their wholesale orders. They also can be found every Sunday at The Hyde Park Farmers Market.

As for further future plans, their next big goal is to have the first food truck selling dog treats in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, available for special events and parties. 

“A food truck would help us create a more mobile platform with opportunities for new products,” Lisa explains. “We are also looking to collaborate with other social service agencies to help provide more opportunities for other food entrepreneurs - with or without a disability- to share our space and maintain our commitment to an inclusive atmosphere.”

Special dog treat orders can be made by contacting the bakery. Their signature dog bones and more can also be purchased on their website, as well as Jungle Jim's International Markets, Party Source, and many local breweries. 

“(Claudia) loves her Brewhaus family, and enjoys working there because the people are nice, she likes learning how to bake, and she loves helping dogs by making treats for them.” —Laura Hawke

Brewhaus Bakery Co. 

6927 Miami Ave, Madeira