How do you feel about cat cafes these days? Enduringly cool concept or a little bit passé by now?
While I heartily enjoy our feline friends, I won’t lie — hearing about a new cat cafe doesn’t excite me like it used to. Unless, say, it happens to add a twist to the idea of mixing up adoptable kitties with beverages and pastries, such as theming the whole shebang around Japanese kawaii culture. Which is just what Philadelphia’s upcoming Kawaii Kitty Cafe has done. Expect something along the lines of an overly cutesy anime starring cats come to life and spiked with copious java shots.
On the heels of the cafe completing a successful Indiegogo campaign, I spoke to the Kawaii Kitty Cafe’s owner, Kristen Eissler, about the inspiration behind the concept, how her own cats Beef and Zissou helped decide the design of the spot, and how you go about snagging a job at a cat cafe.
What inspired the idea to create a kawaii-themed cat cafe?
I have personally always loved anything kawaii! I used to work in the fashion industry and fell in love with the kawaii style during my years as a designer. When I decided to open the cafe I felt that the cute kawaii style fit the idea of a cat cafe perfectly.
I also really wanted to make sure the cafe was fun, bright, and happy, and the best environment for humans and kitties!
From a design point of view, what’s the most fun thing about the cafe?
The best thing about the cafe is definitely the cat room. We have a cat superhighway, which is a system of shelves and bridges built into the walls that allows kitties to climb and play to their hearts’ content. The cat room also has grass built into the front windowsill to give our kitties a taste of the outdoors. We tried to make the cat room similar to a living room so when a cat gets adopted the transition to their forever home is that much easier.
I noticed some cat cupcake shelves in an early mockup of the store. Did they make the final cut?
Sadly the cupcake shelves didn’t make the cut. Beef, our resident cafe cat, tested out our prototype and was … well, let’s just say he was completely indifferent. He did however love the box the shelves came in.
Was there anything else about the design of the space that you had to change once Beef and Zissou had begun to check it out?
Zissou is easy — all he needs to have a great time is food and a cardboard box. Beef, on the other hand, is a little more picky. He needed more treats, more toys, and the assurance that he was in charge of the cafe. Otherwise both cats seemed to approve of the sunshine and cage-free environment.
What was the most frustrating or ridiculous law you had to deal with when applying to open a cat cafe?
Surprisingly, combining a cat adoption center and a cafe was the least stressful part of opening the business. The most ridiculous thing I encountered was actually some of the emails I received once the cafe gained some popularity — one fan asked to live in the cat room and pay me rent.
What sort of music will you play in the cafe?
We plan to play a variety of music but will focus on artists that fit the feeling of the cafe. This will include some J-pop, classical, and contemporary alternative music. And maybe the Meow Mix theme song on loop. I’m kidding. Our main goal is to make the cats and the humans feel relaxed and content.
I saw a list of potential names for the first batch of adoptable cats. Which names did you settle on in the end?
Settling on the names of our first cats was tough, but we went with: Bradley Pooper, Ziggy Litterdust, Mr. Ravioli, Tina Superstar, Fatty Wow Wow Porkchop, Pizza Party, Barbara Broccoli, Floof, Susan, and Lord Fluffybottom IV.
You also plan to run cat yoga classes. How will they work in practice?
Cat yoga will be just like regular yoga, but cats will be walking all over you and interrupting your quest for inner peace. Luckily after the yoga class you get some kitty cuddling time, and maybe they can even teach you some of their moves.
One of your Facebook posts said you’d received more than 300 applications to work at the cafe. What do you look for in a potential employee? And did you receive any really crazy applications?
We have so many applications — it’s very exiting. We look for candidates who are crazy cat people who can adapt quickly and roll with the punches. We also need someone with a great sense of humor.
The craziest application we have gotten to date was “written by a cat,” meaning the entire resume and cover letter was written in meows. I must say, it was very amusing.
Check out more on the Kawaii Kitty Cafe over at its Facebook page.