Make some furry feline friends while sipping on some wine or a freshly brewed espresso. If Colony Café opens in Shadyside by the end of the year, it could very well be Pittsburgh’s first cat cafe. Stay tuned for news on the exact location.
The coffee and wine bar is partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society to create the cat-mosphere while you sip your beverage of choice.
Cat cafés, which are popular in Japan and Europe, offer customers a chance to hang out with cats while relaxing in a café atmosphere. New York City has four, and both Colony and Black Cat Market are seeking to open in Pittsburgh. Due to health code regulations, at Pittsburgh cat cafes cats must live in a designated area for visits from customers instead of roaming freely.
Sue and Erik Hendrickson plan on opening the café as soon as the build-out is complete and they have their liquor license to serve accessible and, they say, affordable wines by the glass.
While sipping your beverage of choice. you’ll be able to peer through a large glass window in the café to see the cats, or visit with them for a small fee, which will be determined soon.
For Hendrickson, who has fostered cats and run a catsitting business, it’s really all about the cats. “There is overcrowding in shelters,” she notes. “So we would act as giant foster home; we would have 12 to 15 cats at a time. Instead of going to a shelter and seeing a cat in a cage, you can play on a sofa like you would at home. It’s a different way to experience the cat.”
Hendrickson has been a cat lover her entire life, while her husband Erik is a convert. “When he married me, he married my two cats,” she says.
The Hendricksons both quit their jobs of 20 years in corporate communications to relocate to Pittsburgh from New York City. When searching for a new place to live they made a list of what they wanted: walkability, arts, cultural diversity, friendly people, and entrepreneurial spirit. A colleague and Pittsburgh native suggested they give the city a look and after their first visit they could see it met everything on their list.
The challenge then was to decide what kind of business to open. They remembered the cat cafes they had visited in Paris and New York City and it all clicked. For Colony Café, they have selected Ruby Roasters from Wisconsin to provide their coffee. In addition to hand-crafted espresso drinks and a wine list, they will offer their favorite foods from around the city, such as croissants from La Gourmandine and possibly Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte.
“Coffee and cats is fabulous,” says Sue Hendrickson. “But coffee, cats and wine is even better.”