Cat-loving telecommuters and entrepreneurs will be excited about this one: Baltimore is set to get its very own cat café in the recently restored Whitehall Mill development near Hampden and Woodberry.
The business, dubbed Charm Kitty Cafe, is currently raising money on Kickstarter. So far, the campaign is going swimmingly: In just one day online, the fundraiser has raised $8,300 as of 2:30 p.m. Friday, well above its original goal of $5,000.
The planned cat café it will be a collaboration with the Reisterstown-based Baltimore Humane Society and Lauraville-based Zeke’s Coffee; the former will provide the cats, while the latter will provide the coffee.
Cam Tucker, the man behind the business, said in an interview that when he went to bed after launching the fundraiser yesterday, it had received some small support from family and friends. By the time he woke up, the funds had doubled. “It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and I’m just so happy that people are really excited about this,” he said.
Tucker said he’s already secured preliminary approval for the café’s layout from the Baltimore City Health Department.
For those who are aren’t familiar, cat cafés offer the best of both worlds for coffee enthusiasts and feline lovers. Guests can enjoy a warm beverage while playing with and, hopefully, adopting the fostered cats away from a shelter partner. The craze is only a few years old in the United States, but it’s gradually spreading across major cities.
Wendy Goldband, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Humane Society, said the nonprofit shelter is excited about the collaboration. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get exposure for the cats and get them adopted,” she said. “It also allows us the ability to rescue that many more cats, because we can take in more than what we would normally be able to in our shelter.”
This space brings a twist to the regular cat café in that it’ll also be a co-working area for those who work remotely. Customers with memberships won’t have any time limit on how long they can stay and work, a common rule in normal cat cafés.
Tucker said he’s been planning Charm Kitty Cafe for just over a year. “The biggest piece that was difficult was getting a space that would allow cats,” he said. “I was told ‘no’ by many different locations – and maybe for good reason, a lot of places just didn’t want cats in a retail location.”
Just when he was considering abandoning the effort, a friend mentioned the newly restored Whitehall Mill.
The business will also have board games, cat toys and books, as well as special events like cat yoga in the future, according to the Kickstarter page. It’ll be connected to the other stores in the market area inside Whitehall Mill.
“They immediately embraced the idea and took to it. That was just really a breakthrough,” he said.
Goldband said it’s a “beautiful space” that will be “set up very well” as a home for cats. The goal, she said, is for customers to be able to adopt the animals away right away at the café instead of having to come up to the shelter.
Presently, Charm Kitty Cafe is set to open in the second half of 2017. With the money raised so far, Tucker plans to lease the space, renovate it and obtain all necessary city permits. His Kickstarter is rewarding donors with perks such as entry to the “Baltimeow Club,” which informs members about any new developments and special offers.
Tucker envisions developing other partnerships with businesses as they fill out the space at Whitehall Market. In the meantime, thanks to the swell in funds via Kickstarter, “we’ll have a great budget to make the space just the best it can be,” he said.
This story has been updated with comment from Cam Tucker of Charm Kitty Cafe.
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