At Zinsel Glass (1120 Lafayette St., Gretna, 504-367-2330; www.zinselglass.com), the main entrance features a striking floor-to-ceiling glass facade ... and a doggie in the window. Winston, a 75-pound Old English Sheepdog, monitors the outdoor activity. "He loves to sit and watch the cars go by," says Tara Buonagura, co-owner of the dog and Zinsel Glass.
Founded in 1920, Zinsel is the oldest glass company still open in New Orleans. Tara and her husband Warren have owned Zinsel Glass for more than 20 years. When they took over the business, there were only three employees. Now the couple employs from 80 to more than 100 people, depending on the projects underway. The business offers a range of services from replacing auto glass to residential installations to contract work. Zinsel Glass designed the glass facade for the New Orleans Saints' training facility, as well as the National World War II Museum's U.S. Freedom Pavilion. Zinsel currently is updating the New Orleans East Hospital with new glasswork, including an exterior glass wall spanning six floors, interior glass walls, windows and automatic doors.
A family of golden retriever owners, Warren and Tara got Winston after their daughter received an Old English Sheepdog from her husband on their first wedding anniversary. Their son-in-law, who's in veterinary school, did breed research, which he shared with his in-laws. That led Warren and Tara to decide on a sheepdog. With both of their kids grown up, Winston is now part of the family.
"My kids are jealous of Winston; they laugh because he's like our new child," Tara says. "I introduce him as my husband's new son."
When he's not hanging out with his "siblings," Winston likes to attend meetings.
"We have a service department that does frameless showers, glass tabletops, anything really, and they come in to the office to visit Angelique, our manager," Tara says. "These four guys come back to the office and report to her. Winston comes and sits next to them in a chair and listens in as they give Angelique their estimates and reports of the day. He joins in on the business."
Winston loves attention and can open Warren's heavy office door on his own. He also has unusual eyes: one blue and one brown. According to Tara, it is not uncommon for his breed, but the trait is still considered rare.
Warren and Tara are conscious that Winston's size can intimidate some people, especially walk-in customers.
"I let him roam around, but I put the gate up when clients are coming," Tara says. "I have to remind him not everybody likes dogs and that's OK, but we do have customers that come in and sometimes they come back just to see him. They bring their friends or kids. Sometimes they don't even need anything, they just want to see Winston. And everybody wants to take his picture."