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Petco Union Square's dog food kitchen serving meals with 'whole food ingredients'

Petco Union Square is the first East Coast location for the pet food brand JustFoodForDogs.

JustFoodForDogs opens its kitchen at the Petco in

JustFoodForDogs opens its kitchen at the Petco in Union Square on Friday. Photo Credit: Alex Staniloff

There’s a new destination for fresh, wholesome fare in Union Square — and it caters to four-legged customers.

JustFoodForDogs, a Southern California-based pet food brand, opens its latest dog food kitchen at the Union Square Petco this Friday.

The open-concept, stainless steel kitchen marks the nine-year-old brand’s ninth such kitchen, and its first on the East Coast. It will churn out some 2,000 pounds of fresh, human-grade, nutritionally balanced dog food a day.

“This food will actually be made here, it’s not just a show,” JustFoodForDogs founder Shawn Buckley said of the nearly 1,400-square-foot kitchen, located in the front of the pet store. “People can smell it, look at it, see it — the steam coming off of it. They can taste it if they want. It’s real food.”

The meals use ingredients like ground beef, venison, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower — “all the whole food ingredients that you’d see at a Whole Foods Market or something,” Buckley said. Daily specials, like “all-day breakfast,” and grab-and-go snacks like dehydrated chicken breast will also be on offer.

With its location across the street from the Union Square Greenmarket, Buckley wouldn’t be surprised if the kitchen’s chefs pick up ingredients there.

“There’s zero doubt in my mind that they will be going over there and getting things on a regular basis and bringing them back here,” he said.

The Union Square kitchen will host classes for pet owners looking to make JustFoodForDogs' recipes at home.

A second JustFoodForDogs kitchen is slated to open at the Petco at Lexington Avenue and 86th Street later this year.

For Dr. Oscar Chavez, JustFoodForDogs’ chief medical officer, the brand is part of a larger, consumer-driven push for higher-grade pet food.

“It’s people finding out what could be put in pet food and deciding, I want something better,” he said.

According to a recent Nielsen report, consumers spent $33 million on pet food with human-grade products over the past year. “Discerning and knowledgeable consumers are just as focused on the health and wellness of their pets as they are on themselves,” the report said.

In addition to joining forces with JustFoodForDogs, Petco is moving away from artificial ingredients across its shelves; as of this month, the retailer no longer stocks dog and cat food containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

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