First update from our 19th Grant Winner - Mew Haven Cat Cafe

Editor Note: As a rule, all Idea Cafe grant winners provide monthly reports on how their business is doing since winning Idea Cafe's Grant. Here is the first update from Angela Pullo, the owner of Mew Haven Cat Cafe. Enjoy reading, and don't miss out on the opportunity to be inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit and business wisdom. In a six-month period she will share thoughts on how she uses the grant money in the best possible way in order to take her business to the next level.

Mew Haven Cat Cafe has been on our minds for 2½ years, and April was all about the beginning of the end of Phase 1.

What’s Phase 1? We learned that we needed to add “cat café” to the zoning regulations to explicitly allow the cat section of our business. A Cat café isn’t just a coffee shop and it isn’t just an animal shelter, so a new definition had to be created for this unique idea. This would take months, and we were raring to go. So we made the decision to open the coffee side of our business first, with the goal to open in the first week of May.


This carried a lot of risk, since we’re not entirely certain the café can carry itself. Our business model was strongly dependent on the cat lovers who would come and spend time with our furry companions, and coffee was an additional service to enhance the experience. However, we wouldn’t have chosen our location if we didn’t feel that a standalone coffee shop would work here. This neighborhood has a number of sit-down brunch restaurants but didn’t have an obvious location to grab a cup of coffee, outside of a Dunkin Donuts.

During this month, we learned that there was a ton that we didn’t know, which led to a lot of research: familiarizing ourselves about the coffee equipment we would use daily, memorizing the health code to ensure we would be up to code when the time came for an inspection, and checking out the coffee competition in the area to see what our niche would be. We worked with our plumber to ensure the machines we both were somewhat unfamiliar with were installed correctly. The time it took to do all this research has pushed out our estimated coffee open date, we hope by only a week. But that’s one of the lessons of opening a business – no matter how much you plan, a delay can occur at any point along the way.

We did get a lot done over the month though. The secondhand coffee machines are hooked up and functional (whew!). We interviewed baristas (or “purristas”, if they prefer that job title). We established our menu and pricing. We are also planning a cat-related arts fair in the cat lounge to continue momentum and interest in our cat café.

Over this next month, we will complete our hiring process for baristas and train them in time to open mid-May. We’ll test and establish business hours to ensure we’re open during optimal peak times. Our cat arts fair will be the first of many events to run while we await the change in zoning laws. What’s next? Just wait and see!

About the author

Angela Pullo is the 19th Small Business Grant winner. She is the owner of Mew Haven Cat Cafe. Mew Haven Cat Cafe is a coffee shop with adoptable shelter cats. With an hourly entry fee, people can come and play with cats. Some people can`t have cats, and this provides a form of stress relief. Some people who want to adopt can get to know the cats` personalities before they adopt.


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