Tri-State’s first cat cafe launches fundraiser to save business

"Kitty Brew Needs You:" Owner of cafe starts fundraiser to save business

CINCINNATI (FOX19) -The first cat cafe in the Tri-State was a big hit when it opened its doors in Mason three years ago, but like many businesses, it hasn’t been immune from the pandemic.

The Kitty Brew Cafe serves up an impressive cup of espresso, but the real treat for most is lounging with the kitties.

“It’s a wonderful place," said Claire Gray, who is a frequent visitor. “It’s kind of like my second home away from home. I come here after work sometimes when I’m really stressed out, and it’s really nice just to be able to chillax with some cats.”

Owner Jennifer Barrett says the popularity of the coffee shop has continued to grow over the past three years with people visiting from as far away as California and New York. However, she says the pandemic has changed everything.

“It’s impacted us in every aspect that it can," Barrett said. “We were closed for about four months, so that was really trying. We did get money initially for reopen costs from the CARES Act, but that money’s been depleted pretty rapidly. We are probably operating at about 20 percent from what we used to.”

Barrett says in hopes to rescue the business she decided to start a GoFundMe page to help with rent and utility costs which run about $5,000 each month.

“I posted it yesterday around 4:30 p.m. and we met our goal before midnight, which is amazing," she said. "There were people that I remember, they adopted cats from us, or people who have never been here, but just believe in what we’re doing

Barrett says the cats at the cafe come from different shelters in the area. Most have had some awful beginnings, living as strays or abandoned by their owners, yet this gives them a second chance of finding a forever home while providing humans some much needed comfort as well.

“If it closed, I would be pretty devastated," Gray said. "I’ve been coming here since it opened pretty much and I used to come here every day, so I would be heartbroken.”

Barrett tells FOX19 NOW she gave up everything to start the business due to her love for animals. In the past three years they’ve been open, they have been able to find forever homes for more than 2,000 cats.

So far the GoFundMe has raised almost $15,000. The owner says that will at least cover rent for the next few months. She’s hoping that will be enough time to allow the business to bounce back to what it used to be.

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