Reluctant landlords and unmet fundraising goals prevented Toronto's cutest cafés from launching.
Back in the spring, we heard about rival cat cafés slated to open in the fall. As you may have noticed, fall is here, but cats with adorably tiny cappuccino moustaches aren’t yet a thing.
So what happened to the cafés? Both projects—Kitty Cat Café and Pet Me Meow—used crowd-funding site IndieGoGo to raise project awareness and funds. Both fell significantly short of their targets—Kitty Cat Café raised $5,565 of its $60,000 goal and Pet Me Meow raised $12,921 of its $70,000 goal—and neither has announced launch dates on their respective Facebook pages. What does that mean for the future of cats and coffee? And, perhaps more pressingly, if you donated, what’s happening with that non-refundable donation money?
Kitty Cat Café’s Jennifer Morozowich insists that, despite IndieGoGo’s non-refundable donation policy, she’ll make personal refunds if the café fails to open. This would be an independent endeavour, done by digging up PayPal records and the like. Those who donated toward raffle prizes—which they’ve received—would be excluded from the refund. But she hopes it doesn’t come to that.
Lower-than-expected fundraising isn’t the only reason why Kitty Cat Café has been postponed. “The City of Toronto—or, rather, the landlords here—were not as receptive to the idea,” Morozowich says. All of the spaces that Morozowich previewed have fallen through, she admits, largely because landlords aren’t crazy about live cats and food items mingling.
To remedy this, Morozowich plans to buy a building of her own, and has extended Kitty Cat Café’s launch date as a result. Because the purchase of a building will be an added expense, Morozowich is also looking for a new business partner before moving forward. Her former partner, Jeff Jarvis, is no longer affiliated with the project. The new launch is slated for spring 2015, when Zorowich expects to open somewhere in the west end.
Pet Me Meow’s Jeff Ro and Ashkan Rahimi are running into similar real estate limitations. Ro says Pet Me Meow will be a large space—one capable of accommodating 40 to 50 guests—but he hasn’t yet found a suitable venue for it. Besides, like Morozowich, he’s encountering unreceptive landlords. Toronto Public Health bylaws make the combination of live animals and food items a tough sell for building owners. Still, Ro is optimistic that with some persistence he will soon secure a location for Pet Me Meow.
Ro doesn’t entertain the idea of donation refunds, insisting instead that the café will eventually find a home. Though Pet Me Meow failed to meet its fundraising goal, Ro and Rahimi plan to invest much of their own money into the project. Like Kitty Cat Café, Pet Me Meow plans to launch in spring 2015.