What kind of business do you open when you’ve studied animal science in university, and paid for your education by working your way up in the hospitality industry? A cat cafe of course!
Nicole hails from Toronto originally, and more recently from Guelph where she studied at University of Guelph. The first business she started was an events company. Nicole explains, “the event company I was working for didn’t share my values. It’s really important to me to give back.” With her new venture, Cats & Caffeine, she plans to give back wherever possible through partnerships in the community.
Nicole secured a partnership with NCWL Cat Rescue based in Dunnville and operating throughout the Golden Horseshoe– a key partner for the business. The cafe will offer the opportunity for the rescue cats to be seen by many cat lovers and increase their chances of finding the perfect forever home.
Although Nicole has the location secured, she’s not quite ready to let the cat out of the bag just yet. Renovations are underway, but she’s still rounding up cash for some of the final pieces she needs to launch. Because of the huge amount of enthusiasm and community support, a crowdfunding campaign has been started, but Nicole will take out a loan if required to make it happen, she emphasizes.
Nicole was quick to sign on The Hearty Hooligan to supply the cafe with baked goods. “I immediately clicked with owner Staicha,” Nicole says. The Ottawa Street vegan eatery is wildly creative and well known for its take on retro comfort food, like a vegan version of Dunkeroos they call Punkaroos. “The values they hold fit perfectly with Cats & Caffeine,” Nicole explains. “And Staicha has acted as a mentor to me with every step of launching this business.” With a focus on vegan and gluten-free menu, Nicole has also signed on with local vendors Relay Coffee, and Sol Shine Culina.
Another way Nicole wants to give back is by supporting the LOST Organization, another Ottawa Street organization, and non-profit community support for the maintenance of good mental health. On June 22, there will be a fundraising event called Cats & Canvas, where you can enjoy some treats from The Hearty Hooligan while painting, and participate in a raffle for amazing prizes like a $50 gift card to The Other Bird restaurants. You can get tickets here: https://www.bruha.com/event/3418
When asked why she is determined to start Hamilton’s first cat cafe, Nicole mentions how she simply doesn’t have room for a pet at home in her small space, and while wishing for a cafe similar to the one she used to frequent in Guelph (My Kitty Cafe) she realized she could make it a reality herself. Nicole worked as a volunteer for a seniors’ centre in Guelph and she was struck by how often seniors would lament about missing their pets more than anything else. “Cats offer such huge mental health benefits, and it’s something so many in the community could take advantage of.”
One thing is clear, a lot of good will come out of this cat cafe, and Nicole is going to make sure of it.
Expected launch date: Summer 2018
Want to help make it happen? Go Fund Me – Cats & Caffeine
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