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Beacon Hill cat cafe prepares to open, with security as tight as any dispensary's

Baker explains proposal

Baker describes cat cafe as one cat describes its disinterest.

Update: Food-serving license approved.

The Boston Licensing Board decides tomorrow whether to grant a food-serving license to A Sanctuary Cafe, 80 Charles St. on Beacon Hill, which will combine a place for people to play and visit with 10 to 15 cats, sip coffee and eat pastries and browse books for sale - although not in the same room.

At a hearing this morning, cafe owner - and Beacon Hill resident - Brittany Baker said the cats would be in one room, the cafe and bookstore in another. She added the two rooms will have separate HVAC systems. "We understand a lot of people might be concerned about cat hair in their espresso and things like that," she told the board.

The cat room will also have two sets of double doors - between the cats and the cafe/bookshop and Charles Street - which will also further reduce the odds of flying fur getting on or into people who don't want it and of the cats escaping. She said the man trap - or possibly cat trap - between the cafe/bookshop and the cat room would be controlled by an employee "doorman switch," and employees would look inside the space between the two sets of doors first to make sure no cats were trying to get out.

Baker said the cats - for whom customers could book set amounts of time to spend petting or just observing - would spend all their days in the space, which she said is designed to keep them active after the customers go home. As an example, she said there's "a full maple tree trunk for them to climb." She added customers will not be allowed to bring their own cats in.

The Zoning Board of Appeal approved the proposed use a couple years ago. Baker said nobody opposed the idea, but mainly asked questions about such things as cat dander.

However, to forestall any possible concerns in the future, Baker detailed what she would about the sort of issues that now typically come up with new restaurants on Beacon Hill: She said she has no plans to seek a liquor license or late hours or to sign up with any third-party delivery services that might clog up the already congested Charles Street. She added the pastries will be locally sourced, which means they will not only be delicious, they will not be delivered in big congestion-causing trucks.

Although A Sanctuary will be Beacon Hill's first cat cafe, it will be only the second in Boston. In 2017, a cat cafe tried to open in Brighton, closed, briefly re-opened then finally closed in 2019.


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Comments

"We understand a lot of people might be concerned about cat hair in their espresso and things like that,"

One would think the sorts of people that would want to go to a cat cafe are aware of the risks and aren't concerned.

To complain about cat hair in you coffee at a cat cafe is like being angry there is smoking at the hookah bar.

I wish this cat business the best and would only hope a cat came to visit when I was drinking coffee.

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Voting closed 76

I wish this cat business the best and would only hope a cat came to visit when I was drinking coffee.

Instead, the cat will glance disdainfully at you from a very safe and hermetically sealed distance

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Voting closed 40

Some of them would appreciate if they had that option at home.

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Voting closed 21

A family member out of state has a cat cafe in their down set up really similarly - there's a cafe portion with no cats, and then the cat room. This cafe actually has a big glass wall between the two. It's great for them, because she is badly allergic to cats but her two tweenagers looooove cats. So this way the kids get to go to the cafe to get those cat-petting urges out, and she gets to sit in the cafe portion watching them and having a cup of coffee. Kids have to shake themselves out in the parking lot and lint-roll before getting back in the car.

It would be nice if they'd allow for food in the cat area with some kind of waiver, but it's also possible they don't want to risk the cats trying to make off with somebody's pastry.

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Voting closed 13

I went to one in Japan where the cats were in the same room with the coffee and treats, but obviously the laws are different here. It was fun. I wish this new cafe the best!

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Oh no! We can't have a cat in my cat themed bookstore, that would be inconceivable.

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Voting closed 23

If the owners also want to make money off the bookstore/cafe, they need the separate space and airlock for the cats so they can also sell books and pastries to those of us who are allergic to cats. My guess is that the separation from the cafe is also necessary for health code reasons.

I hope there is good viewing of the cats from the cafe side, so those of us who can't be physically with them can have the pleasure of watching them.

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Voting closed 19

I'm not sure the extra precautions (beyond basic health code) really make sense. Unless they use a positive/negative pressure system and issue people sterile booties, there's gonna be cat dander in the other spaces, and it's just... not a good place to go if you're allergic.

Exterior window would be a fantastic idea, though!

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Voting closed 29

There's a pretty big difference between "having multiple cats within 10 feet of you" and "being in a place where there are humans with cat dander on them but no actual cats" when it comes to allergies. I'd still medicate, but I'd feel a little more confident that spending time in the bookstore wouldn't require a box of Kleenex on hand.

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Voting closed 18

…because we did, in fact, design the split HVAC system to have negative pressure on the cat side and shoe covers are required in the cat area. Shoe covers are an important way we’ll be protecting our cats from whatever infectious things people may accidentally track in from the streets of Boston.

We also have a window wall separating the two spaces so cafe/bookstore patrons can see the cats, and a large front window that will allow 24 hour cat viewing.

We have worked very hard to make the cafe as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

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Voting closed 29

Will the cats be available for adoption, or are they just for visiting?

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Just for visiting.

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They would place the lilacs in a hermetically sealed bubble so those of us with allergies could enjoy the arbs on that day.

You see how absurd this can get and how quickly?

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I'm allergic to cats, and while my allergy is not as severe as others', I get it. I'm also allergic to tree nuts. I'm the last person in the world to take a "suck it up, buttercup" attitude towards allergies or any other medical conditions. But I don't expect to consume products with nuts or hang out with cats without consequences. While I always appreciate it when I'm made aware of the presence of cats and tree nuts, of necessity, I know that I need to take my own precautions and make my own judgment call about what I can tolerate/what's safe for me. The "separate space and airlock" approach seems like an attempt to make the situation bulletproof, and I don't think that's a good way to handle risky situations. At least, it's not the approach I choose to take. "Bulletproof" solutions are never that.

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Voting closed 10

Nothing like ~60 dirty litter box cat paws walking and jumping on everything gets me thirsty for a coffee

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It's a business specifically for people who want to be near cats.

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Voting closed 80

You think I was planning on going until you ‘enlightened’ me?

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Voting closed 20

So why did you post a disparaging comment regrading a business you didn't plan to visit in the first place?

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Voting closed 56

I don’t even know how to respond to this…

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to something that has nothing to do with you. Whinging from your mom's basement is all you know. can't wait for stage 2.

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Voting closed 59

We thought you were just a whiner.

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And the many more diseases you can catch from them.

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Voting closed 34

Humans that go to the bathroom and don’t wash their hands. Now, let me ask you how you feel about this scenario?

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Voting closed 14

1. Scoop cat box
2. Touch Robo's car

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LOL

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Cheers!

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Voting closed 13

Made my day!

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Voting closed 15

Wait till you hear how much of the earth's surface is covered in dog piss and shit

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.

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Voting closed 22

I thought all cats know that it is their job to walk on keyboards when their humans are working, especially during web conferences. Unless there was a squirrel on the fire escape, that cat may not be feeling well.

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Voting closed 20

Based on the looks of it from the picture, she is definitely pursuing what she is passionate about.

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Voting closed 18

Is that cat fur is both a fashion accessory AND a food additive.

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Voting closed 34

Is a patron going to be ostracized if their cat has been declawed?

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So unless you sidle up to the espresso bar and loudly exclaim "My cat's declawed, fight me!" nobody will know.

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Voting closed 49

And yet you never hear of customers going into anaphylaxis whilst grabbing their morning muffin.

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They have cats to eat the rats

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I look forward to going and playing with the cats. The comments here are funny. We are navigating the pros and cons of a cafe with cats meanwhile Korea has capybara cafes. lol. Imagine those litter boxes and hair situation!

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Look at this place and tell me why we can't just have this:

Cats everywhere, litterboxes are hidden away. Treats available for both humans and cats. Lockers for items you don't want cat hair on with washrooms too.

Like this is what we COULD have. The Japanese aren't dying of litter-cat-paw-itis or whatever you think you're gonna get from making/having food around cats (like every cat owner in the world has in their house).

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Voting closed 29

That is one amazing cat cafe!

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The one we visited had a cat that rode around visiting tables on an electric skateboard. Very cute.

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Voting closed 12