HOUSTON, TEXAS – When El Gato Coffeehouse Cat Café opens, hopefully in early 2017, customers will then be able to settle in for a drink and a nibble while petting and playing with resident cats who are available for adoption. Owner Renée Reed is ”a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady.” She’s also a full-time CPA with a solid background in the food service industry.
She was asked why go from accounting to running a café?
According to Reed, the seed of the idea formed back when she moved to EaDo just three years ago. “I quickly made friends with all these stray cats from all over, then spring came and all the cats I was feeding all multiplied,” she explains. “It became my personal mission to figure out what to do with all these cats.”
While many other cat cafés have resident kitties who live out their lives at the businesses, Reed is closely following the model of Austin’s Blue Cat Café, which operates as a satellite of the Austin Humane Society to help place cats in homes.
Following suit, Reed has already begun to forge a relationship with the Houston Humane Society. The partnership will mean that the cats coming to “work” at the café will have already been completely vetted—with medical visits and neutering or spaying. Reed will only have to pay for food and litter. She sincerely hopes that if El Gato is sufficiently popular, she and the Humane Society will be able to pull animals from kill shelters for adoption, too.
That covers cats, but what of the café itself? Reed’s boyfriend, whose name is Josh Cormier, is a longtime restaurant manager and bartender, will work on sourcing drinks as well as local baked goods, which will be created for the café each day. Reed is also currently toying with the idea of serving beer and wine. However, she worries about how pairing those with a purring cohort might be interpreted. Cormier’s influence extends to non-feline entertainment as well. Reed plans to hold both gallery shows and live music at the café.
The one missing piece then is a space. Reed explains she is actively seeking a cat-friendly landlord to rent El Gato its own space. Without a solidified home base, Reed is also not able to start working on what is sure to be a complex permitting process. But progress is indeed being made. She plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in upcoming weeks to help fund the project and raise further awareness.
Even without a fixed location, Reed says that she is very confident that El Gato will open early next year.