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Learning Pekingese 

What's the deal with that dog from the Molly's sign? Plus, sweets from Coeur d'Alene's Shugar Shack.

click to enlarge The dog that looked like a cat... skunk. Catskunk. - TAMMY MARSHALL
  • Tammy Marshall
  • The dog that looked like a cat... skunk. Catskunk.

Every neighborhood has a celebrity: the topless sunbather, the compulsive lawn-mower, the woman who argues with her cats. Eccentrics like these make life more interesting. The corner of Third and Lincoln in Spokane has a shrine to a character whose celebrity has grown long after her death.

If you’ve walked into Molly’s Family Restaurant — for the massive chicken fried steak ($8.50-$9.50), say, or the delicious, gooey eggs Benedict ($8.25) — you’ve probably seen her visage painted on the diner’s south wall.

She’s black and white with a cat-like profile, a skunk-like tail and a disgruntled expression on her face.

That’s Molly. She was a dog, actually.

“A very special dog,” says Mike Crandell, owner of Molly’s. “She was a little Pekingese that had a lot of health problems. But she was cartoon-cute and I thought it fitting for a family restaurant.”

The tribute to Molly is befitting of a queen. Inside the restaurant, pictures of her line the walls in matted gold frames amid hanging silk plants and reddish diner-style booths. Her name is plastered across the doors and windows in a friendly green font.

Molly’s tribute is now a memorial: She died two years ago. “We kept her alive for 10 years, and that was a miracle,” Crandell says. “I had more than $7,000 of vet bills into her. I teased my vet, saying I sent him to Hawaii a few times.”

And people really do come in just to ask about her life — not a day goes by without someone asking about her. Molly may be gone, but her story is passed on through the walls of the restaurant like it’s her own miniature Graceland. (Jordy Byrd)

Molly’s Family Restaurant, 224 S. Lincoln St., is open Sun-Thurs 6 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 6 am-midnight. Call 624-4413.

TRADEMARKED TREATS

Susann Marino says “yummy” a lot, and she could teach Willy Wonka a thing or two. Inside the Shugar Shack — a gourmet sweets outlet in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development — Marino creates an array of delicious treats so unusual she’s trademarked most of them.

Locals will love North Idaho-themed goodies: caramel and chocolate-covered Paul Bunyan Lumber Log pretzels, Cowboy Cocoa-Mocoa, and Lewis and Clark Trail Mix. For kids, there are Weekend Oreos topped with caramel and chocolate, All-American Candy Apples and YummyCake cupcakes. When it’s hot out, enjoy Italian gelato — denser and lower in fat than ice cream — or sorbetto ($3.45). And not to be left out, Fido can enjoy doggy-safe BowWowser ($1.55/$3.55) cookies.

Special occasion? Chocolate cigars, golf balls, or the huge Congratulations bar ($12). Big party? Order the Shoo-Fly pie: two pounds of chocolate, nuts and fruit in a real pizza box with a real (plastic) fly. Or do-it-yourself with a chocolate fondue starter kit; a melting pot is included ($40).

Of course, there are traditional confections, like chocolate-covered ShugarBerries (strawberries), cordials ($19/dozen) and baked goods, like chocolate-covered biscotti ($1.80). Many reflect Marino’s sense of whimsy, Americana nostalgia, and support for causes near and dear. Part of the proceeds from her Original Florida Sea Turtle (chocolate-covered praline), for example, benefits Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol in Florida, where Marino used to live before relocating to the Northwest.

Originally from the northern Midwest, Marino grew up cooking alongside her mother and her grandmother, descended from Minnesota homesteaders (you can imagine where Marino gets her moxie).

When, as a teenager, she invented ChocoPop — melted chocolate over her grandmother’s popcorn — things clicked into place.

“I heard that vision is the art of seeing that which is invisible,” said Marino, “and I just began envisioning the Shugar Shack.”

After high school she attended confectionery school in Pennsylvania — home of Hershey’s — eventually creating ShugarShack outlets in the southwest. Now in North Idaho, Marino invites you to celebrate your inner child with goodies made from premium ingredients, including up to 95 percent pure chocolate imported from the Ivory Coast. And with recent studies supporting the health benefits of chocolate, we think your mom would approve, too. (Carrie Scozzaro)

ShugarShack (2384 N. Old Mill Loop, Coeur d’Alene) is open Mon-Thur 10:30 am–7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 10 am-10 pm, Sun 12 am-5 pm. Visit shugarshack.com or call (208) 664-8181.

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