Your New Weekend Plans: The Cafe Meow
Photos by Lianna Matt
The moment co-founders Jessica Burge and Danielle Rasmussen truly believed their idea for Minnesota’s first cat cafe could work was when they realized more than 10,000 people attended the Walker Art Center’s 2014 Cat Video Festival. In the end, it took more than three years and a lot of set backs for their dream to come true, but thousands of other people also latched onto their dream, donating more than $36,000 on two separate Kickstarters for what would become The Cafe Meow on Hennepin Avenue.
The Cafe Meow is set to open Friday, Feb. 16, but soft opening events have given early supporters, friends and family a sneak preview of what’s in store. Hint: It involves 10 sociable, curious and adorable cats.
“Originally, I was hoping it would be done sooner, but the fact is building something like this, I wanted to make sure in the end we did it correctly. We weren't concerned when it took more time,” says Burge.
By the soft openings, Burge and Rasmussen wrote out the cafe menu on the chalkboard, hung the current cat art gallery, and added price tags to the merchandise people can buy, including cat bow ties and toys. They brought in the first cats of the cafe and introduced them to the surroundings they would be allowed to roam 24/7—no cages here. While the two may have some more finishing touches to do, they have everything they need to host the cat paradise you’ve been waiting for.
In the cat room, Burge and Rasmussen have a board listing all of the cats in the cat room as well as their adoption information because yes, you can take these kitties home. The Cafe Meow works strictly with no-kill animal rescue partners, and every cat they are able to welcome into the cat cafe meets veterinary and personality requirements to ensure that the cats won’t be overwhelmed by the social stimuli. To keep the cats stress free, there is a limit of about 15 people in the cat room ($10 per person per hour), with about 10 coming from online reservations and a handful from walk-in customers.
The cafe side is working to be just as charming, with food and drinks supplied by Bootstrap Coffee Roasters, The Northern Lights Tea Company, My Sister's Sweets and Fox Cakes, and the amount of cat-shaped goodies is promising. Two large windows in the dividing wall let you peek in on the furry friends as they play on the 8-plus foot custom cat tree and run around the room.
In short, you’re going to have a meow-velous time at The Cafe Meow. (I’m so excited for the cafe, I don’t even regret that pun.) It’s the perfect place for animal lovers who want some four-pawed love in their life or even for those who are less cat crazy and just want a new favorite cafe. Looking around the rooms The Cafe Meow, you can picture people lounging with their lattes and chatting, playing with the cats, or even breaking out the Catopoly that Burge and Rasmussen set on the table.
“All the effort we've put in and seeing all the people that are going to be happy because of it, it's heartwarming,” says Burge. “And the cats we can potentially help be adopted … Creating a business that has a conscience and courage and compassion is important, so seeing that happen is the best part.”