When Sheri Geiss describes her cafe, she imagines a place with good coffee and fine art. The cafe will sell local artists' work, and musicians might play intimate concerts. Located somewhere in downtown Phoenix, the cafe will draw an eclectic mix of people.
“The place will have a cozy, homey feel,” Geiss says. "It [will be] the perfect place to decompress after a business meeting, and it’s cheaper than therapy.”
But most important of all, Mews Cat Café will be filled with felines.
At 52, Geiss has a knack for wild ideas: In 2005, she quit her full-time job at Anthem College to start VanGo Pottery, a mobile pottery studio. The company has won awards and is still thriving 10 years later.
Ever since Geiss adopted a cat 15 years ago, she and her twin daughters have shared a particular affinity for the species. Earlier this year, Geiss learned of a cat cafe in Taiwan, where the concept was born, and discovered that the trend has exploded in Japan and now the United States.
“I found myself constantly thinking about them, and things just started to gel,” Geiss says. “The concept eventually went from a really cool idea to something I needed to do. The thought of providing the space and opportunity for cats to get adopted was the final clincher.”
Incredibly, Geiss is not the only Phoenician looking for a location to establish a cat cafe: Illinois native Melissa Pruitt plans to open La Gattara in Scottsdale, which will also serve coffee and showcase cats available for adoption. Mews and La Gattara both have partnerships with local humane societies, and both are slated to open around January 2016.
The principal difference is that Mews will be located in downtown Phoenix, where Geiss hopes to attract a more bohemian crowd.
“I’m an artist and have been heavily involved in the downtown Phoenix art scene since the 1980s,” she says. “It’s important to me to support local artists, musicians, and businesses by offering locally brewed coffee and treats and providing retail space for local art and goods. I am proud to be a part of the vibe and community that is downtown Phoenix.”
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There is still a great deal of work ahead: Geiss must find a location, forge relationships with animal shelters, secure funding, and figure out the size and layout of the cafe. Only then can she determine how many cats will fit comfortably into the establishment. But as Geiss notes, the cats’ welfare comes first.
As for La Gattara, Geiss feels she’s in good company.
“Yes, I recently heard about [La Gattara],” she says. “There’s plenty of room for two cat cafes. I wish them much success.”
For more information about Mews Cat Café, visit its Facebook page.