The Cat Connection, a cat rescue service in Waltham, yesterday opened a cat shelter at 167 Chestnut Hill Ave. in Brighton.
That's the onetime home to Purr Cafe, Boston's only cat cafe, which sort of opened in 2017, closed, opened, then finally closed for good in 2019.
For now, the non-profit shelter is only open to "adopters whose arrangements are finalized and by appointment."
Alright - if the cats run the shelter and THEY WANNA MAKE A CAFE --- then it's okay because it's therapy for the cats and therapy for the people. I love cats but I still think it's gross to hang out with them and I don't want a cat Cafe.
.-- anonymous cat lover
I read the linked article (and the long linked Imgur thread).
There's a kind of sick, guilty fascination to watching this kind of slow-motion train wreck as a business owner publicly self-destructs.
Most people will have no idea of the online drama around Purr. I'm sure the crazed/haggled owner didn't help matters in running a smoothly operating cat cafe that stood a chance at succeeding. However, aside from her, the city basically did everything it could to give it no chance of succeeding as well.
They let her open a cat rescue where cats can roam free...but they didn't let her have the critical bit of selling coffee/food. The only concession they made is that she could let people bring in outside food/drink. Nobody goes to a cat cafe with their own food just to hang out with the cats.
People who go to cat cafes want to go to a cafe...that has cats, not a cat room...that they can bring a coffee. And while adoption is a noble cause, it is entirely unnecessary to a cat cafe. Having cats that are homed by the cafe, and well-accustomed to the goings-on of the cafe, and ever-revolving sets of patrons, and will be there every time you visit is a plus!
So it was a triple-strike out for Purr. The city evidently isn't ready to have a cat cafe, the owner wasn't ready to run one, and it wasn't exactly located on Newbury Street either (although having Fuel and Moogy's and Gyro City around it wasn't a bad deal for outside food).
Hopefully, for the good of some cats, The Cat Connection can make something of the space, even without a cafe concept.
Having read the extended thread, the idea that the city bears even a shred of blame for the failure of this business seems to be a stretch to say the least.
Putting the crazy cat lady and her inability to run a business aside...
Imagine a theoretical cat cafe that is thriving with business....millions in profit a month. Put the Purr owner in charge of it...it would probably succeed, even if it didn't do as well as it could.
Imagine Purr exactly as it was...but put the savviest business person with a heart of gold that the community deems a cat god...I believe it would still fail.
My point is that how a cat cafe thrives is a certain model that the city didn't permit. It permitted her to have an adoption center you can eat in. It did not give her a cafe you can pet a cat in. She was the wrong person to try to make that work AND it probably wouldn't have worked anyways. The fault for the latter falls on the city's permitting and lack of vision.
As it stands, we've learned that nobody can open a successful cat cafe in Boston. Least of all the owner of Purr. That's my point.
I don't see how anyone could read the extended thread and conclude that the Purr owner would do anything other than drive away all the staff and customers within a month.
I don't see how we've learned that at all. What we've learned is that the owner of Purr is probably incapable of operating any business of any kind, and we haven't learned much about whether or not a person with more business savvy and more conventional interpersonal skills could successfully open a cat cafe.
The city won't allow for the real cat cafe model, which is a cafe, where cats hang out. Nobody wants to bring in take out and pay to be in a room with cats - they go into a cafe and pay too much for coffee to drink coffee with cats and study. The CAFE part of a cat cafe is pretty important, and city regs will not allow that.
such a crucial aspect of your business should be a top priority to figure out...before opening said business?
It seemed to be a bit of a chicken/egg problem (at least it seemed to me when she was attempting to open...even prior to all the drama).
Does the city, which had no real guidance on something completely novel, tell you what you need to hear to even consider opening a business...or do you have to attempt to open a novel business to force the city to develop guidance on it at which point you're probably far enough over your skis to have to follow-through with whatever it ends up agreeing to?
It didn't seem like the city wanted to develop guidance until it had to. I mean I wouldn't want the city trying to predict every novel business model that might walk through the doors just to be able to inform on it on the case someone would come up with the same idea, right?
But then again, if you've developed an idea to the point that you're requesting the necessary permissions from the city (who might be bodging together rules out of the blue) and they give you some sort of half-assed leeway...then do you continue on and hope to expand permissions as it seems nothing is going wrong or throw away the time/money you've already invested to get that far?
Does the city, which had no real guidance on something completely novel, tell you what you need to hear to even consider opening a business.
It didn't seem like the city wanted to develop guidance until it had to.
Do we know for sure that the owner even asked the city what would be allowed, or consulted with anyone from the city before she started the business and started applying for permits? I don't see anything referencing that in any of the links above (instead, it looks like she knew the business wouldn't be able to serve food before it even opened), and given the owner, I'm not sure I'd rely on any statement from her that she wasn't given guidance here. The "no animals where food is being prepared" rule also matches what I've heard from other business owners in the city, so that part of it doesn't seem like it'd be hidden or hard to find. If you have a source that says she requested more guidance and didn't get any from the city, or that they gave her a "half-assed leeway", I'd love to see it.
Just keep it as a cat rescue, forget the cafe idea. A rescue place is for a good cause. The city didn't help matters, nor did the crazed woman. She certainly didn't need to be shit on by unscrupulous sources either.
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