Lacking any cat cafés, Toronto is obviously not a world-class city.
It’s been more than a year since Torontonians were promised not one, but two cat cafés. Yet we still must stay home if we want to pet kitties and sip coffee simultaneously.
But Jennifer Morozowich hopes to put our long nightmare to an end by opening the Kitty Cat Café this fall—even if she has to sell her own home to make it happen.
“I know,” she says, when asked about selling her house to fund her business. “But it’s my dream, and I’m not giving up on my dream.”
Since she launched her Indiegogo campaign in June 2014, Morozowich has come across a series of obstacles, the biggest being financial.
“One thing I’ve learned through this process is the amount of money required is not enough. You need to look at your budget and then get a shit-ton more on top of that,” Morozowich tells Torontoist.
It’s a lesson Jeff Ro and Ashkan Rahimi have learned all too well. The duo raised $12,921 of their $70,000 goal on Indiegogo last year for the cat café Pet Me Meow. But between lawyers, crowdfunding perks, marketing, and a pop-up cafe in June 2014, those funds have been depleted.
“All of the money that was fundraised was just re-invested back into all the costs that were associated with getting the campaign off the ground,” Rahimi says. “At this time, we’ve been really trying to explore investment opportunities.”
Rahimi and Ro are working with Startup Toronto to find compatible investors to get Pet Me Meow off the ground. Getting a bank loan for a café in the city is almost impossible in today’s business landscape, Rahimi says.
Morozowich’s Indiegogo campaign raised just $5,565 of its $60,000 goal, falling far short of cat cafés’ crowdfunding initiatives in other cities.
“That money is still sitting in an account. I haven’t touched it,” Morozowich says. “But, to this date, I have incurred $10,000 in expenses.”
But with her home sale in the works, she says she’s financially ready to go.
“I have everything lined up—food supplier, cat supplier, coffee supplier. I’m ready to go. I just need to find the big thing and that’s space,” she says. “I have a vision of what the Kitty Cat Café would like and Toronto landlords are not that receptive.”
Still, she may have something in the works. She’s mum on the details, but says she’s seriously looking at a 1,600-square-foot downtown location with apartments above, so she can move in after she sells her home.
“I want it to be very open and warm and inviting space where both cats and people are very comfortable,” she says.
Morozowich is also aiming to open her café in the fall. In the meantime, she’s kept busy by creating the Cat Café Embassy, so cat café owners and would-be owners can share best practices with each other.
Rahimi wouldn’t hazard a guess as to when Pet Me Meow will open its doors for fear of making a promise he can’t keep.
“The main focus is to be able to find the right investors to get it off the ground,” he said.