Walk into the newly opened Dental Boutique in Westchase and get ready to experience the next level in dentistry. Andrew Vallo’s community-focused ethos brings dentistry into the 21st century of service with thoughtful amenities and detailed extras.
As Vallo recently explained, “For years, and years, people looked at going to the dentist as awkward or uncomfortable—definitely not a nice experience. You walk in the door, it smells kind of funny, you’ve got older, dated décor, and carpets, and magazines that have been read 100 times on the table. I felt like the entire process needed to be reinvented. I put myself in a patient’s shoes and thought, from the very first interaction, what can we change to make it a better experience?”
From the minimalist, relaxing decor to the upscale cafe menu, from the private waiting areas where a massage chair offers rejuvenation with a full selection of individual entertainment to the state of the art, three-dimensional scanner to reduce discomfort and wait-times, the Dental Boutique’s full-on, service-oriented mindset shows Vallo has thought of everything. Especially appealing is the “Hand-Crafted Comfort Menu” where patients can select personal preferences such as noise-canceling headphones (while you enjoy your choice of Netflix shows streamed from the ceiling TV) or lip balm, blackout masks and lavender-scented towels. There’s even a videogame corner and toy machines to appeal to the younger patients, with “tooth tokens” awarded during the visit for a special treat before the little ones leave.
Born and raised in Michigan, Vallo practiced in the public health sector for three years, in Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State’s College of Dentistry, in 2016. As he explains, “It was a great experience and transition into the field. I saw all types of patients who don’t have the means to afford a traditional dentist office or private practice.”
After a few years, he and his fiancée, Dana, decided to make a bold life change and move to Florida.
“We knew Tampa was where we wanted to be,” Vallo explains. “It’s a great city, a growing city and we have family just south of Tampa. We’d both lived up north our whole lives, cooped up for half the year in our house because of the winter, but really, we’re beach people.”
Cooped up along with them were two dogs, Samson and Ruthie, two more reasons to move to Florida and, fittingly, an integral part of the community-ethos that the Dental Boutique represents. As Vallo explains, “Our second dog, Samson, was a shelter animal. He’d gone through three owners before we adopted him at 18 months and, at first, he was obviously undernourished and very protective of his food. As we watched Samson become more comfortable in our home, we realized we wanted to also support a good cause at the same time as opening a business. We immediately thought of the Humane Society.”
With the launch of the Dental Boutique, Vallo started “No Hungry Pets,” a partnership with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay dedicated to keeping pet families together. With every new patient that enters the Dental Boutique, Vallo pledges a full month of meals to a hungry pet.
“When we first approached them, we realized there’s so many great partnerships going on at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay,” says Vallo. “We’re proud to be one small part of a bigger whole.”
As Ornella Varchi, chief development officer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, explains, “One of the most popular ways for companies to get involved is with matching, where a local business matches the amount raised during a community drive.” Varchi cites two recent successful matches supported by Rhyno Glass and Chasm Communications.
“BlueGrace Logistics also holds an annual Cat vs. Dog Challenge within the company and their customers to fuel donations through friendly competition between cat lovers and dog people,” Varchi says.
Vallo wanted to establish an ongoing relationship by tying his donation to new patients. He hopes to reach 1,000 new patients this year, for over 60,000 meals.
“Our partnership with Dr. Vallo helps provide free food assistance for families that are having financial problems,” explains Varchi. “With the current situation, we’re seeing more surrenders where families want to keep their pets but the uncertain circumstances make it harder to take care of them. We want those pets to stay in their homes versus coming to us. So Dr. Vallo’s support allows us to provide free food assistance for these owners, so the pets can stay in their homes.”
As Vallo adds, “As soon as we saw Westchase, we knew—this is it. This is where we want to call home. To be a part of the larger community and to give back while starting up, it just made sense to us.”
Around their new neighborhood, Vallo has found more ways to engage with the community.
“Walking the dogs, or eating outside with them at local restaurants on the patio, we really wanted to become a part of our local business community too,” Vallo says. One local restaurant, Mothers, catered the grand opening of the office and hosted a small fundraiser on May 13, partnering with the Dental Boutique and the Tampa Bay Business Network to benefit the Tampa Bay Humane Society.
For Vallo, opening a business in Westchase is also about opening himself to the wider community of care, for pets and people. ♦
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