Orlando is known as a destination that has something for everyone, regardless of your age and interests. To name just a few, there is Disneyland for some family fun, Universal Studios for movie buffs, and SeaWorld for animal lovers. Now there is even something for cat lovers, as a cat café has opened its doors. Cat cafes are now popping up all over the world, and this café in Orlando is just the latest café with a cat theme. It is owned by Heather and David Strauss, who held the café’s grand opening in November 2019. Not only is it a great place for cat lovers to hang out, but it is also somewhere that will appeal to foodies as it has an excellent menu. While other cat cafes focus only on the cats and simply offer some snacks and a few hot beverage options, Heather and David have made this a place that people will want to come to enjoy the food and drinks. They have created a menu that uses as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. The drinks are an equally important part of the menu with options including freshly-pressed juices, coffee, espresso, various teas, crafted sofas, beer, and wine.
Heather and David are both cat lovers, and they have an 11-year-old rescue tuxedo cat called Somewhere. According to Catster, there were two reasons that they decided to open their own cat café. The first is their passion for cats. The idea of working with cats every day is something that has really appealed to them.The second reason they wanted to open a cat café is that they wanted to have their own business where all the family could work together. They are particularly keen to make sure that their two children have employment opportunities, as they are both on the autistic spectrum. Heather and David know that people on the autistic spectrum often find it difficult to find employment, and they wanted to make sure that this would not happen. On one side of the café, which they have named The Kitty-Beautiful Café, visitors can sit at tables enjoy their food and drink. On the other side, they can spend time playing with and petting the cats. This comes at a cover cost of $10 for visitors, and the money is used to house and feed the cats.
Heather and David have worked in partnership with the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando to find cats that need a forever home. The aim is for visitors to fall in love with the cats after spending time with them, and for them to want to offer the cats the forever home they need. As the cats are adopted, they are replaced by new cats who are also in need of finding a loving owner to welcome them into their home. Another organization that Heather and David have partnered with is the UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. They have a history with the organization as their son has used their services since he was just 10 years old. Heather says that UCF CARD has helped him to have a normal childhood and to interact with other children. It has also helped their son to learn about what are acceptable behaviors and what is not.
By working alongside UCF CARD, Heather and David hope to support young adults on the autistic spectrum to have employment opportunities. Heather and David want to give other young adults the same opportunities that their own children will have. They also see it as a way of thanking the UCF CARD for everything they have done for their family and repaying them for their support. To attract new customers and to make sure the business really takes off, Heather and David are hosting many special events at their café. One of their ideas is cat yoga, and they now have sessions every Saturday morning. This idea has become very popular, so they are now considering adding another cat yoga session each week. Another regular event that they hold in the café is ‘Mew-vie Nights’. These take place once a month, and visitors get to watch a movie that is projected onto the wall while playing with the cats. There are also date night specials that take place several nights a week.
David and Heather’s ideas to attract customers do not end there, as they have big plans for things they can do in the future. For example, they would like to start doing board game and card game nights, which they think their customers would enjoy and see as something fun and interesting to do in the evenings. Other ideas include spoken word events and staged theatrical readings. One of their most recent initiatives was to start hosting Murder Mystery Parties using the cats. David has said that this was a lot of fun for everyone who took part. It also makes them stand out even more from the local café competition as there is nobody in the area doing anything like what they have to offer.
So far, the cat café has been a huge success, and David and Heather have enjoyed seeing so many customers coming through their doors. It has taken off quickly and it has been exciting for them making business plans for the future months. With so many ideas in place, it is likely that their success will continue, and their events will widen their customer base. David and Heather knew they were taking a big risk when they followed their dreams and opened their cat café in Orlando. The cat café concept is not one that will appeal to everyone and, as it is the first café of its kind in the city, there were no guarantees that the locals would like the idea. However, David said that they felt it was important to take a leap of faith and make their dreams come true for once in their lives.