What do cat lovers and coffee lovers have in common? Possibly nothing. But for the first time ever in Vermont, cat and coffee lovers can have a place to call their own. The Kitty Korner Café located in downtown Barre is the latest craze to come to town. Much like any other café, the Kitty Korner offers delicious coffee, tea, cider, soda, and other drinks. They also serve baked goods to go along with your favorite drinks. Coming in from the North Main Street entrance, you’ll immediately see the stylish layout and the extremely cool vibe. You’ll notice immediately that it’s a happy place. They serve happiness in a cup and another way: cats.
The café isn’t called Kitty Korner for absolutely no reason, after all. If you want to get a dose of some feline to go with your cup of Joe, Kitty Korner is the place to go. The café houses anywhere from a handful to more than a dozen cats for customers to pet. Once you’ve gotten your drink and/or food order, an employee will lead you to the special cat room, where you can indulge in as much cat as you’d like. The cat themselves enjoy it as well. They purr and lounge around the Kitty Korner all day, and they relish any company that comes to play and spend time with them.
But the Kitty Korner does more than just that. The café has become a stage for adoption for all these kittens. You’d have to wonder where all these cats come from. The cats at Kitty Korner Café come from the Central Vermont Humane Society, and they’re actually available for adoption. Visitors may come visit the cats at the café just to hang out for the day, or they can leave for home with a new cat companion in tow. Adopting really doesn’t get any better than this for both parties. Cat lovers looking to be cat parents can spend some time with a particular cat or a few cats before deciding if the partnership is the right one.
Kitty Korner’s story
Owner Alexis Dexter has always been a cat lover, but she already owns a business right next door—Forget-Me-Not Flowers and Gifts. Dexter has heard of successful cat café’s from other parts of the world, including one she’s familiar with: the Happy Cat Café in Montreal. Before the idea for Kitty Korner came about, Dexter’s boyfriend had the idea of building a giant cat tree. From that point, the idea grew and morphed into an entire café, which has successfully found homes for about 25 kittens since they opened.
Although the idea was incredible and though Dexter was all ready to open the café by April of 2020, the COVID pandemic hit and the state of Vermont ordered all restaurants to close their doors. This happened two weeks before Kitty Korner was set to open. This was an incredibly difficult situation for Dexter as a business owner. Her flower shop already had to refund flower orders from postponed weddings. Then, she had to pay rent on a café that she couldn’t even open.
A few months later, Kitty Korner Café finally opened in August after the state loosened restrictions in July. Although business could be better, Dexter is simply happy that she’s open for business and customers are coming in. Opening during the pandemic has proven to be challenging in itself. Dexter state officials had to figure out how to open a café that involved animals without risking allergic reactions or contaminations. This is the first for the state of Vermont, so precautions are necessary. Putting the cats in a separate room from where food is handled and served negotiated the situation. This will allow patrons with cat allergies or those simply coming to enjoy the café to still be able to do so without risks. It will also allow Dexter and her employees to keep a closer eye and better care for the cats.
You might be wondering why cats in the first place? Apart from the fact that Dexter is a cat lover herself, cats are the perfect animals for such a venture. Their cool temperaments make them the ideal creatures to let about freely in a café. Cats are the coolest of animals. They’re not highly excitable; and though they may be, they don’t show it in a crazy manner. Cats are almost always calm and collected, and they will let you know if they don’t want to be petted. For the most part, cats are good with just being astute observers of their surroundings. So the café is actually a fitting place for them to roam about and just be themselves.
Some believe that cats actually have the ability to heal a soul. Whether you believe in this or not doesn’t matter much. Spending a little bit of time at Kitty Korner Café will prove immediately that cats will make you feel better no matter what. Playing with cats will improve your mood, lessen your stress, and absolutely put a smile on your face. The ancient Egyptians must have known this a long time ago; that’s why they kept cats around all over the place. Dexter is definitely on to something with her new café, and it might just be the light we’re all looking for at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
If you’re ready to have a unique cat experience or if you’re ready to adopt a new pet, visit Vermont’s Kitty Korner Café at 214 N. Main St., Barre, VT. They are open from 7am – 2pm Tuesday to Friday, 10am – 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Visiting Kitty Korner will not only benefit you as a customer or the cats in house, but you will also get a chance to help a small business stay open during this pandemic.