Baltimore will soon have a venue where you can sip coffee in the company of adoptable cats.
Cam Tucker is working to open Charm Kitty Cafe, a cat cafe and coworking space at Whitehall Mill in Hampden.
"It's an amazing concept. It gets cats out of cages, and it increases adoption for local shelters," Tucker said. "The way I like to look at it, it's a win-win for everyone involved."
Charm Kitty Cafe will house at least seven cats at any given time, Tucker said, and they will have free rein of the 1,150-square-foot space at 3300 Clipper Mill Road. Tucker is partnering with the Baltimore Humane Society, which will select cats with the best temperaments for the cafe, where they will be kept until they are adopted. The Humane Society will handle all adoptions — the cafe won't profit from them, Tucker said — and applications will be available in the cafe.
Tucker said he visited cat cafes in Washington, D.C., and Colorado, and learned from their successes and failures.
"One thing that's been really tough for a lot of cat cafes is having the coffee and the cat cafe space in the same space," Tucker said. "Having any kind of food production in the same space as cats would have just been a tough situation."
At Charm Kitty, the coffee will be prepared within the adjacent Whitehall Mill marketplace and delivered to the cafe. The cafe will offer Zeke's Coffee to start, and may eventually provide local food items as well.
What sets Charm Kitty apart from cat cafes in other cities is its design as a coworking office. Most cat cafes accept reservations with time limits for customers to enjoy the cats and cuisine.
Charm Kitty will still take reservations in the evenings and on weekends, but weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the cafe will be open to coworking members. Tucker said Charm Kitty will provide several levels of membership, including unlimited monthly passes, passes that allow for a limited number of visits and day passes. He also plans to offer student discounts. Prices have not yet been set.
"I want it to be affordable," he said.
Tucker expects Charm Kitty to accomodate as many as 30 workers, and it will limit visitors to about 15 at a time during evenings and weekends.
Charm Kitty Cafe requires minor cosmetic updates before it can open. To that end, Tucker launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,000 needed for new flooring, furniture and supplies. The campaign was fully funded in less than a day, and as of 4 p.m. Friday it had raised more than $9,300 from 192 backers.
The Kickstarter is open until April 1, and Tucker said any extra funds will be invested in the cafe. He's aiming to open it in the second half of 2017.
"At the end of the day this has such an amazing potential for the cats, and that's what's so exciting," Tucker said.