The new storefront Dog Tag Bakery, which opened on Grace Street in December, supports veterans’ reintegration to civilian life through a work-study program in partnership with Georgetown University. It offers veterans the chance to practice business skills and take courses in pursuit of a certificate in business administration from the university.
Founded by Director of the Georgetown Academy for Veterans Fr. Richard Curry, S.J. and local business owner Connie Milstein, the bakery is a non-profit organization focused on helping veterans. The opening in December was the culmination of an idea eight years in the making.
Dog Tag’s director of public relations and media for the bakery RaeAnn Pickett, said both Curry, who trained as a baker with the Jesuits, and Milstein share a love of baking and a conviction that no veteran who wants to work and pursue his or her career goals should be unemployed.
“The two things that both of our co-founders bring to the table really are what make Dog Tag such a unique place,” Pickett said.
The bakery offers workers a certificate program in business administration through the Georgetown Center for Continuing and Professional Education in the School of Continuing Studies. Its storefront includes a bakery, a kitchen and classroom space for workers to take classes.
“The bakery itself is a training ground for small business and entrepreneurship. We provide a great education through Georgetown and a great job opportunity through business, which is the bakery,” Chief Operating Officer Megan Ogilvie said.
The business administration curriculum, customized to the bakery and its employees, consists of nine courses, including accounting, management, communication, corporate finance, marketing, business policy and entrepreneurship. Employees must complete all requirements in order to receive a certificate, learning all aspects of a small business, such as business and staff management, product creation, customer service, marketing and operations.
Pickett emphasized the work-study focus of Dog Tag Bakery and its benefits for veterans and families.
“They go to lectures and take regular course loads as any student of the School of Continuing Studies would, but they’re also going to the bakery and learning how to bake and run a business,” Pickett said.
The current bakery staff consists of 18 people, and the current non-profit staff consists of four people. The first set of workers entered the program June 2014 and received their certificates in a ceremony at McGhee Library on Nov. 20. Dog Tag will take in its next set of members this coming spring.
“We have a mix of veteran, military civilians, and regular civilians as employees, but everyone in the program is either a veteran with a disability or the spouse of a veteran with a disability,” General Manager Justin Ford, an Army veteran of Iraq and Kosovo, said.
The proceeds from the bakery are reinvested in the education program in order to reach out to as many veterans as possible. Additionally, customers can add their own dog tag to the bakery in order to reach out to as many veterans as possible.
The bakery itself has a wide variety of goods on its menu, including breakfast pastries, breads, soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches, desserts, snacks and beverages.
Ford also said that the bakery’s business has been doing very well.
“Sales have gone up each month; there’s been a steady increase since day 1,” Ford said.
Alex Patti (COL ’18) said she is looking forward to visiting the bakery soon.
“I’ve heard about the mission behind the bakery, and I’m definitely going to check it out, especially because the food is supposed to be great. Maybe it will become my new study spot,” Patti said.