When we first posted about Renée Reed's plans to open a cat café in Houston, many of our readers questioned the project's feasibility. Other entrepreneurs had tried and failed to get the concept off the ground in Space City. But not everyone had done their homework as Reed had. "Having visited a couple of other places and knowing what they're doing in different cities helped," Reed explains.
And with approval from the city, she'll open El Gato Coffeehouse at 508 Pecore Street in April or May, with a lease on the space that begins March 1. Her research showed that many other cities use food trucks to prepare their coffee and food in order to circumvent health department concerns. Due to complex food truck laws in Houston, El Gato's java from Argus Coffee Co. (of EaDo café Ahh, Coffee!), snacks and sweets will be brewed and plated in a large shipping container abutting the house where most of the seating (and cats from the Houston Humane Society) will be located.
"Everyone from the city wants to make this work, but obviously within the guidelines and existing code," Reed says.
That cat-friendly landlord Reed had been seeking was closer than she realized. To raise awareness and funds for El Gato, Reed has been hosting cat yoga classes (the first of which was at the Humane Society) since late August. The all-levels classes double up on relaxation with 45 minutes of poses, followed by more than an hour of hanging out with adoptable kitties. One site Reed had considered for the classes was Heights studio NiaMoves. Though owner Angela Mestre's beautiful floors are perfect for human yogis, they're less than ideal for cats with sharp claws. But she did mention the adjacent 1,150 square-foot residential space she also owns.
Reed will knock down walls and remove the kitchen currently in the house to make room for felines and their friends. She adds that there will be some seating in the shipping container, too, for customers who don't want to while away their coffee break in the company of cats.
Once El Gato opens, yoga classes will ramp up to two or three times a week. Reed also hopes to host movie nights and art classes. All of which are activities best completed with a cat in your lap.