I have been toying with the idea of opening a cat café/lounge in the future (after COVID-19, obviously). There isn’t one in my city currently. The closest one opened in Q1 of 2019, and seems to be doing well even in the pandemic. It’s about an hour away in a nearby larger city (I haven’t visited, but I follow their Facebook page).
A cat “café” did open up about 15 minutes by car from me also in the same year, but closed down before it hit 9 months, well before the pandemic. I can figure a few reasons for this:
It was extremely small. Only a 6 people were allowed in at a time due to fire code, and there was very little seating. Cat yoga was held there a few times, but again, with a small space, not many people could attend. The only tables you could sit at, if you wanted to bring a laptop, were outside the cat partition (there was a small window to look in at the cats), and was right by the entrance, making it unpleasant to work there.
It wasn’t a true café. You walked in and it was like a refreshment center at the local car dealership. There was a Keurig, a vending machine, and some prepackaged cookies. All were free with purchase of a time slot, but it was incredibly underwhelming.
The parking lot only had 4 spaces, and the area didn’t have much foot traffic, at least not for those who would spend money to sit in a small space (no colleges/young adults nearby).
No charm. It didn’t feel vintage, nor modern. The atmosphere was very much like a small cat shelter with fresh paint on the walls, but without the cages.
The owner was NOT a people person. She would run the front desk and was extremely awkward to talk to. She had no conversational skills whatsoever, and had a hard time looking people in the eye. There is nothing wrong with not being a people person (probably why she centered her business around cats), but it was probably extremely off-putting to people who only came in once, and never came in again.
For my idea, I would need a much bigger space, and either a huge parking lot, or lots of foot traffic with a nearby college/spot where young people tend to congregate. The space would be need to be designed for young people to come in for comfortable conversation, or for freelancers to work quietly with their laptop. Cats would be provided by a shelter, and cat food and litter would be provided by the shelter as well. Events held would have enough space for plenty to attend. Obviously there would be a social media presence to promote the business.
I was thinking more along the lines of a Panera Bread, but less tacky, and obviously with cats.
Any advice and constructive criticism are welcome!