Hampden will soon become home to another venue for coffee sipping and cat cuddling as Neko No Kafe prepares to open on Falls Road.
The cat cafe, which will serve coffee, breakfast pastries, lunch and sweets, and will allow customers to mingle with adoptable cats, is targeting an early 2018 opening. Neko No Kafe will mark the second cat cafe in the city, following Charm Kitty Cafe, which opened earlier this year.
Neko No owner Amanda Bennett is partnering with Passport Animal Rescue, a newer foster home-based rescue in Baltimore, to provide cats at the cafe. Bennett previously managed a web design team at an advertising agency. She spent her life around animals — she has three cats of her own — and said she began considering a career change early this year.
“Maybe this is the right time to do something with animals and see if I can live off of something I’m more passionate about,” she said.
The name “Neko No Kafe” means “cat cafe” in Japan, and Bennett chose the name as a nod to Japan, which she said was the first country to offer cat cafes.
The 1,800-square-foot shop in Hampden will be split into two sections: the cafe side and the cat area. Food and drinks will be served on the cafe side, where all walk-in customers can stop in for coffee, breakfast pastries, lunch items and sweets. There will be a charge to enter the cat portion, which will be available for reservations and walk-in customers. All food will be served from the cafe, and customers can elect to bring it to the separate cat area.
Bennett is still finalizing the reservation time blocks for guests who wish to spend time with the cats, but she said she plans to charge $12 for a 60- or 75-minute visit with the cats. Ten percent of the reservation fee will go back to Passport Animal Rescue, and once the cafe has been open for several months Bennett said she plans to donate an additional 10 percent of the fee to a different rescue or shelter each month.
Bennett said she expects to have between five and 10 cats onsite to start, and will increase it up to 20 as time goes on. Passport Animal Rescue will handle adoptions.
SweetSide Cafe will prepare the food for the cafe daily offsite, Bennett said. The cafe will house a full coffee bar that will source beans from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co. Tea, salads, sandwiches, scones and cookies — including some gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options — will also be on the menu.