Just over one year after opening, Greenville’s first and only cat café is looking for a new home. The move comes partly as the owners have realized they need more space for their coffee bar-meets-cat sanctuary concept, and partly from the desire to tap more into walk-by traffic.
The Organic Cat Café’s current location at 123 College St., inside the old JB Lacher Jewelers is set back from the road limiting passersby view of what’s inside, say owners, but being off Main Street has also been a challenge.
“We have great windows in front, but there is zero foot traffic,” said Jennifer Bronzel, who conceptualized her cat café concept over four years ago. “This is two blocks away from Main Street. We have a really busy street, but across the you can barely see anything.”
Couple that with the space, which is storied and interesting, but also an older building, Bronzel said, one that comes with challenges.
Now, Bronzel and her partner, Ernesto Cardenas, are seeking a new home for their organic coffee shop and 30-some cats. The two are taking lessons from the past year to inform their search and to create an even better cafe.
One, they want to remain in Greenville.
Two, they want a larger space that has room for more designated spaces for cat adoptions and to house more resident cats.
Three, they want a space that has more pedestrian traffic.
“We have all these adoptable cats and cats coming in and out,” Bronzel explained. “If I could rebuild it, I would have different adoption rooms and isolation rooms, a washer and dryer on site. All these things we had to learn.
In the past year, Organic Cat Café has garnered a following, mainly from people who have read about it or who are visiting Greenville from other areas. The events – live music, regular cat yoga, painting events – have mostly filled up, Bronzel said, but she sees great opportunity to be a drop-in place, where people can enjoy the cat residents or enjoy the all-organic food menu. The PAWninis, custom panini-style sandwiches are made with locally baked organic bread.
“I’m just really excited to have a blank canvas and restart it again,” Bronzel said.
Since Bronzel and Cardenas decided not to renew their lease at 123 College St., the lease ends at the end of March. That means they need to find a new place and to move in about five weeks
They have already looked at a number of properties and are waiting to hear back about several others. The main challenge is that they need space for cats, and a landlord willing to accommodate the feline inhabitants. It’s a challenge, but one that Bronzel, as she has from the beginning, is meeting head on, with positivity and a can-do attitude.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “We said if it comes down hat we have to bring al the cats to our house and find a storage for a few weeks, that’s what it is then you know?
“But no one is stopping us from being the organic cat café in Greenville. It might take a few weeks longer, but I’m really optimistic that we find something and have a seamless transition.”
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