Word of Mouth

Former Chipotle marketing head goes to the dogs (food) with Redbud's Raw Dog Food

Up until 2008, Jim Adams' career followed a logical path: TV reporter, PR director, head of marketing for hometown burrito empire Chipotle. But after he quit his job overseeing witty billboards featuring foil-wrapped behemoths, his career took a sharp turn.

"Now I make dog food," Adams says. Raw dog food. That's because the livers, hearts and gizzards in Denver-based Redbud's Raw Dog Food ain't cooked.

"Dogs need meat, fat, bone and organ meat. When you get those in the proper ratio, your dog will thrive," Adams says. "We add 20 percent organic vegetables and fruit." Indeed, the ingredient list on Redbud's website lists apples, broccoli and carrots alongside kidney and bone.

Adams came to Denver in 1997 to work for Chipotle. His favorite thing on the menu? "I liked the crispy carnitas tacos with hot salsa, sour cream and lots of lettuce." But after nine years, he says, "it was time to leave." The company had gone public, he explains, and things were different: "I was ready to go and they were ready for me to go. We were all ready to shake hands and say goodbye."

After "goofing off" for a year, Adams began to think about cooking for dogs -- instead of for people -- for a living. He'd begun cooking for his own cocker spaniel, Kramer, years earlier after watching the dog suffer from ill-health: Kramer was overweight, sluggish and constantly itchy. Adams suspected the culprit was his pet's kibble, and he began whipping up meat-and-rice dinners for him instead. It worked, although Kramer has since passed away.

Adams' other dog, a schnauzer named Sophie, lived longer, though she began to slow down when she was about fourteen. That's when Adams discovered raw dog food. "We put her on a raw diet, and it was like she was a puppy," he says. "That's when I knew, I want to make this stuff for people. I want to share this with others."

Redbud's Raw Dog Food, which is named after Adams' dachshund, now offers two flavors: chicken and beef. By the end of the year, he hopes to add turkey and lamb; there are no plans for crispy carnitas flavor. The food comes frozen -- but raw -- in medallions that look like hockey pucks. According to Adams, raw food has a list of benefits that sounds like every woman's dream: lower weight, shinier coat, brighter eyes, whiter teeth, increased energy.

And how will you know it's working? By the poop. "Their poop changes," Adams explains. "The poop becomes smaller because the dog is absorbing most of this food. It's tidy, firm and easy to pick up."

Redbud's is currently on sale in several locations, including Marczyk Fine Foods. Home delivery is also available. Eat that, Chipotle! (Except, not really. Did we mention those gizzards are raw?)

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar