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New cafe a total dog’s breakfast

Edgar Allan Paw is Phnom Penh’s only off-leash cafe.
Edgar Allan Paw is Phnom Penh’s only off-leash cafe. Scott Rotzoll

New cafe a total dog’s breakfast

At the most pun-tastic cafe in town, canines get preferential treatment – but there are plenty of tasty treats for their humans too

At Edgar Allan Paw, a new cafe cum pet store in Tonle Bassac, dogs are not only permitted, they’re preferred customers. Forget the leash too. Pooches may roam freely through the courtyard, while owners sip kombucha ($3) or munch shrimp gumbo ($6.50) or Italian-style frittata ($5.50). According to Aussie owner Tisha Shelley, the eatery is the only place in the city where dog owners can release the hounds. 

The modestly sized spot, located on Street 830 just up from the Samai distillery, is like a doggie daycare without the drop-off. A white picket fence edges in a pleasant outdoor seating area with hanging plants, beautiful art-deco tiled floors and a giant white Buddha statue. Inside is a fully-stocked store featuring colourful imported and locally made dog and cat products. 

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Edgar Allan Paw is located in Street 830. Scott Rotzoll

EA Paw, which opened in December but has only just gotten into the swing of things, comes fully from the mind of Shelley, a quick-witted former member of the Canadian digital marketing world. 

In a graphic tee, cherry-red framed glasses and the tips of her hair died turquoise, Shelley explained how the idea for her new canine-centric enterprise arose from a shar pei named Joe. 

While living in Vancouver, Shelley volunteered at a canine foster shelter. Joe, her inky, flappy-skinned pooch, ended up in Shelley’s shelter after being terribly abused and traumatised. “He was such an asshole. Nobody would talk to him,” quipped Shelley, nodding down to the stoic dog sprawled out on the tiles. Painstakingly, Shelley rehabilitated Joe.

After relocating to Cambodia as a digital nomad, Shelley struggled to find quality food for her hound, a common complaint among dog owners here, she said. While lamenting to a friend about it one morning over coffee, the friend said to her: “Why not just start your own pet store?” And she did. 

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The shrimp gumbo is intended for human consumption. Scott Rotzoll

But EA Paw is also an eatery. Shelley, a self-described perfectionist, designed the menu herself. Her total lack of experience in the culinary world does not show. 

“Because it’s small, I wanted everything to be spot-on,” said the energetic owner. 

Paw’s food, what Shelley described as a “hipster diner” selection, is as varied as it is delicious. There are comfort dishes – nutella, banana, and peanuts on toast ($5.50), grilled cheese ($6.50), “mum’s chicken wings” ($4). But there are also items that are more out there, such as the South American hotdog ($6.50) with chorizo and Argentinian chimichurri sauce. So far the most popular item has been the baked bacon, tomato and egg cup ($5.50).

But if the human eats sound good, the dog food sounds even better. Shelley makes six selections of quinoa-based dog slop, using duck, chicken and rabbit proteins and a list of ingredients that could easily be found in any yoga teacher’s morning smoothie – spirulina, coconut oil, yogurt, fish oil, kombucha, basil leaf extract. She sells the food in packets for $1 per 100 grams and offers home delivery. 

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Well-fed dogs. Scott Rotzoll

Shelley makes homemade dog treats too, such as chicken strips ($8), which Shelley dehydrates in a machine on-site (one customer buys the bagged strips for his own consumption, she said).

There are other doggie food items too, such as the eggshell powder (“great for puppy calcium absorption”) and star anise (“the equivalent of catnip for dogs”), both at 50 cents a bag. 

EA Paw sells all sorts of colourful, well-designed pet merchandise. Through a collaboration with local group Fair Sew, Shelley produces her own beds, collars, mats, leashes and doggie T-shirts. Those sell best with Cambodian customers, she said. 

Shelley has lots of plans for EA Paw. She wants to smoke meat and cheese inside a closet-sized smoker that she recently made. She also plans to brew ginger beer and turmeric lemonade. The cafe will host a “beagle meet-up” and a “grooming day” and, next weekend, a birthday for a pitbull named Timmy complete with a kiddie pool. For people, Shelley wants to host some night events with a pop-up bar. But people can’t get too crazy, she said – dogs are easily excited. 

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Tisha Shelley opened the cafe to offer quality dog food. Scott Rotzoll

“We try to create a calm situation here,” she said. 
Edgar Allan Paw is located at #12 Street 830 in Tonle Bassac. It is open from 6:30am to 3:30pm. They can be reached at 095-997-404.

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