Feline café planned for Reno | nnbw.com

Feline café planned for Reno

Rob Sabo

Heather Howell has a plan to put cats and kittens from the Nevada Humane Society to work.

Howell’s goal is to open a cat café in Reno or Sparks and create a gathering place for feline lovers who don’t have cats of their own. The concept, popular in Japan and Taiwan, Howell says, would feature a cat-themed restaurant serving food, coffee and espresso drinks with a separate lounge area where patrons could intermingle with cats from the Nevada Humane Society.v

As an avid cat lover — she has three of them at home — Howell latched onto the idea when she first heard about it a few years ago. She also has a long history of restaurant management.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that fits me perfectly,’” she says.

Howell still is searching for the perfect location for KittyKafe that would allow her to serve food with a café seating area but still have additional space that could be partitioned to accommodate the animals. She’s hoping to find a location in Midtown but remains flexible on a possible home for the business.

The animals from the Humane Society — dubbed professional café loungers — will be available for adoption. Animals will have their own separate entrance into the building so that they never come into contact with the food service area, allowing the facility to meet health department regulations.

Howell has been in touch with the Nevada Humane Society to determine the ideal number of cats to have in the location, which could be as large as 3,000 square feet. She estimates she needs to raise about $180,000 in funding for capital expenditure to kick off the business. She’s started a KittyKafe crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise an initial $55,000.

“A lot of that is like a marketing campaign to see what type of interested people have,” Howell says. “Right now the biggest challenge is finding a location that works for what I need. There’s places in Reno that are either too small, or I can’t do the restaurant. Space is more important, and it is kind of like a tourist attraction, so I don’t want to be too far from downtown. That’s the biggest challenge, finding the location that fits everything.”

Howell hopes to open KittyKafe by early 2015. The website for the proposed business is kittykafereno.com.