A local catrepreneur is hoping to wrangle support for a place on Chestnut Hill Avenue where people looking for some fuzzy affection could pet kitties for $15 an hour between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Diane Kelly, who pounced on space in the new block of stores at 167-183 Chestnut Hill Ave. for her Purr Cat Cafe, told the Brighton-Allston Improvement Association tonight she hopes to have up to 25 cats at a time roaming her space as people sit interacting with cats, even as they take advantage of free WiFi.
Because of city health concerns, the cafe won't actually make or sell anything to eat or drink, but Kelly said she has an agreement with a nearby restaurant in which the cat inclined could pick items from a menu, which her staff would then go pick up for them so they could nosh and pet at the same time.
Kelly was at the meeting to try to win a pawsitive vote to take to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which would have to give its approval because "kennels" - Boston's zoning code does not cover "cat cafes" - are not allowed at that location.
Kelly said all the cats in her cafe - in space where neighborhood opposition killed a proposed kosher packie - would come from local animal-shelters and that all would be up for adoption.
Her lawyer noted that cat cafes have spread from Taipei around the world and that it's time that New England got its first. "We are sorely lacking in a cat cafe as you can tell, we are behind the curve here, so we need to catch up," he said.
He added the cafe could prove attractive to students from nearby Boston College who "may not want to go to a bar until 2 a.m. and stumble out."
One resident who approved of the idea said it sound like a great way for singles to meet each other. Kelly said she also hoped to book corporate events. Nobody hissed any opposition.
Kelly also plans hours where people from nearby senior centers and residences and local schools could enjoy the cats for free; she cited benefits such as lowered blood pressure and risk of strokes from regular cat companionship.
No more than 40 people would be allowed inside at a time - Kelly said reservations would be made online.
Customers would enter through an airlock-type two-door system, in which they would enter a vestibule, the front door would close behind them and then a staffer would buzz the second door open, to ensure cats don't escape. The basement would be set aside for space to quarantine sick cats - and for upstairs cats to escape if they get overwhelmed by all the affection.
H/t Beth Gavin, who videoed the BAIA presentation.