Chicago’s first cat cafe should finally open at the end of the month in West Ridge inside a new cat shelter at a 7225 N. Western Ave. Tree House Humane Society, which announced plans for the cafe in 2015, will celebrate the opening of their new building on July 28, and the cafe has a new name: The Purrfect Roast Catfe. The cafe sits on the first floor inside Tree House’s new 15,000-square-foot facility.
Tree House is a no-kill shelter located, for the time being, in Uptown. Debbie Hinde, Tree House’s director of development, sees the cafe as a way to attract more people to the shelter, to teach them about cats. Staff will educate visitors about how the shelter vets treat injured cats. The shelter facilitates around 1,100 adoptions annually. Hinde expects that number to increase thanks to the new building. The cafe will also provide the shelter with an additional revenue stream.
Cat cafes have long been popular in other cities. There are several models of business, such as a proposed cafe in Lincoln Park that would be affiliated with Alive Rescue, a Roscoe Village shelter. An Indiegogo fundraising campaign has popped up for that one, Windy Kitty Cat Cafe and Lounge on North Clark Street just north of Fullerton Parkway, DNAinfo reports. But another cat cafe’s attempt at fundraising its proposed opening, Serendipicat, failed in 2015.
Regardless of whether Windy Kitty opens, Tree House’s cat cafe is unique. “We talked with a number of groups, and the ones that have done cafes, really most of them are not within the context of a shelter,” Hinde said. “Most of them stand on their own and may have a partnership with shelters...so this is a little bit different.”
Tree House had to scale back plans a bit. Ownership worked with Royal Cup Coffee on their beverage program, tailoring it to their space. There are no baristas, as machines will dispense the drinks including cold-brew coffees, tea, cappuccino, and lattes. The puns will continue with the drink list with names like “purrspresso.” Tree House didn’t pursue a food license, so there’s no snacks at the cafe. The decision had nothing to do with the cats.
The cafe has two parts. There’s the waiting area-like space near the reception with eight to 10 seats. That’s where anyone can stop by for some caffeine. The cats won’t be hanging out there. There’s another room —also with eight to 10 seats— which will eventually be appointment only. This is where visitors will interact with the cats. Tree House is still working out how exactly that will work. All cats in that area will be available for adoption and staff will monitor the area to make sure felines are treated properly.
Plans for the new shelter have hit construction and budgetary delays, but officials always remained “pawsitive.” The new shelter will include a modern veterinary clinic with new medical equipment to help heal cats. The cafe is one of 11 “cat colonies” in the shelter where prospective adoptees can meet with the public. Hinde called the cafe just another example of social entrepreneurship. The cafe should be open six days a week. The shelter is normally closed on Wednesday, but shelter officials are considering keeping the cafe open that day.
“It’s going to be a little bit overwhelming, but we’ll learn and together we’ll take care of the cats,” she said.
Chicagoist was the first to report the opening date. Check out a video tour of the facility below.