On Saturday, the animal trend that has swept the nation will make landfall in Washington, D.C.: Crumbs and Whiskers, the city’s very first cat cafe, will open its doors in Georgetown.
Long the rage in Japan, the concept of a cafe filled with felines to keep you company while you sip your tea or coffee hit America hard late last year. First, Cat Town Cafe opened in Oakland in October, followed by Meow Parlor in New York. Since then cat cafes have opened in Portland, Denver, and even Naples, Florida. But before any of them had become a reality — before the craze really got underway — Kanchan Singh was forming a plan for Crumbs and Whiskers.
“People were like, ‘Are you stupid?’” Singh remembers from early conversations with friends. At the time, cat cafés only seemed to be happening in the Bay Area, between Cat Town Cafe and the Kit Tea in San Francisco. Singh’s friends didn’t know what she was talking about and she couldn’t blame them — she had only experienced her first cat cafe during a September 2014 trip to Thailand. But she had fallen in love with the idea almost immediately upon entering, and knew she would open her own back home in D.C.
It wasn’t until November 2014 that Singh first leaked word about her plans to the local media, and by then the craze was in full swing. “A cat cafe is coming to D.C. It will be called Crumbs and Whiskers. This is not a drill,” wrote DCist under a “BREAKING” news headline. Singh told the blog that she was hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign and eventually open the cafs by summer 2015. That Kickstarter campaign launched in March of this year and raised $35,881 — more than double its goal.
“I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Singh says. The trend was gaining momentum and the city’s residents were excited for their very own cat cafe. Now, seven months since plans began, it’s here. Crumbs and Whiskers will open on June 20, with a slew of pre-opening “backstage” parties for Kickstarter investors and friends happening this week.
Georgetown Dinette, the diner across the street, has agreed to be a vendor of sorts for the cafe, since local regulations forbid preparing and selling food in a cat-filled environment. (A Georgetown Dinette beverage and dessert menu will be available at Crumbs and Whiskers, which will then deliver goods to its patrons.) More importantly, the cats are already moving in.
When it opens, Singh says that patrons can expect up to twenty cats roaming the space at any given time. The Washington Humane Society is training staff on how to handle cats, and the organization will select animals among those up for adoption, taking into consideration their people-friendliness and other features.
The dual purpose of the cafe is not just to give the cats a home at Crumbs and Whiskers, but also to facilitate the adoption process. If you fall in love with the cat who jumps on your lap at the cafe, you can start filling out adoption paperwork right then and there.
Crumbs and Whiskers will start scheduling appointments on June 18, though registration is already open to Kickstarter backers and members of The Gentlemeow’s Club. The cafe is charging a $10 cover on weekdays and $12 on weekends.