Imagine walking into your favorite place to lounge with a laptop. Along with the usual amenities —- Wi-Fi, lattes, and pastries —- there’s a fresh spin: Fluffy cats nuzzle your legs.
Establishments where kitties roam free are reportedly pulling in patrons in various parts of the world, from Asia to New York. Similar businesses are on the drawing board in places like Seattle, San Francisco, and, now, South Florida.
Broward residents Adriana Montano and husband Michael Meng are determined to give it a go. They are raising money on IndieGogo. Montano landed a national platform for the cat café concept when she pitched her version, Gato Café, on the ABC show Shark Tank.
“I know you may think this idea is crazy,” Montano told five wealthy investors as kittens frolicked on their laps.
Her vision for Gato Café, like many other temporary and permanent cat cafés, is to showcase adoptable rescue cats in a pleasant, friendly environment. It’s a place where cats and people interact, so the fostered felines are not living in cages. Montano said she’s spoken with a representative of the Humane Society of Broward, who is interested in the idea and likely would provide adoptable foster cats for the venture.
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To the obvious questions about animals wandering around a restaurant, Montano explained the proposed café would comply with regulations. She would sell beverages and packaged food items, like wrapped pastries and sandwiches. Guests would be charged an entry fee for the privilege of walking in and spending time with the cats. Hand-washing stations and interesting cat perches and cat walkways would be part of the scene.
Donations are adding up through the crowd-funding effort, but Montano said the total is not yet near her goal. The TV sharks didn't open their wallets, but some of them were intrigued and enthusiastic about the cat café concept.
"I think this is awesome," said GoPro founder/Shark investor Nick Woodman. “My wife and kids would go there at least a couple of times a week.”
To make a donation or to keep updated on Gato Café developments, visit gatocafeflorida.com.