Photography courtesy of Ashley O’Loughlin

It all started with Bella, the schnauzer. When her groomer moved away, owners Dan and Ashley O’Laughlin didn’t know who else to trust with their precious pup.

The Lakewood couple had operated gyms and tanning salons but were looking for a new business venture. That’s when they created Petbar, a subscription-based washing and grooming facility with self-service options.

“We were looking into fast food concepts, then all of a sudden, I walked into a self-wash facility and felt that energy,” Dan said. “I said, ‘There’s something to this.’ That’s when we found our niche.”

The first Petbar opened in 2015 in Highland Park, and the second corporate location opened on Lovers Lane in April. A third corporate location is on the horizon. The business started franchising in Texas about a year ago, and there are several interested parties in other states.

“We have an interested party in Lakewood,” Dan said. “It would be weird driving by a store that’s not mine, but I know it would be fantastic. I have a great spot for them.”

Petbar is one of a few businesses that hasn’t been devastated by the pandemic. During the shutdown, animal services were considered essential. Petbar continued offering washing and grooming services, but it did not allow self-service washes. Instead, staff members picked up animals from their owners’ vehicles. Curbside dropoff was so successful, the business will likely offer it after the pandemic.

However, the O’Loughlins had to postpone the grand opening of their second location because of COVID-19. Now, the company is celebrating with a Howl-O-Ween event from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. The free outdoor event will feature a dog costume contest, dog bone cutting ceremony, prizes, dog big giveaways and refreshments.

Guests and their pooch can celebrate with a free self wash.

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