Katy Poitras prefers the term “fierce feline fanatic,” when it comes to her love for cats.
But as the co-owner of the Triangle’s first cat cafe, where she regularly will be surrounded by cats, she takes no offense to the term “cat lady.”
Cat Tales Cat Cafe will open next week in Chapel Hill. The first delivery of cats are at the the cafe and have been making themselves at home, said Poitras, who co-owns the shop with Ilene Speizer, a UNC professor.
Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the space. All the cats come from animal rescue The Goathouse Refuge in Pittsboro, and they are all adoptable.
Both Poitras and Speizer had the idea of bringing the trendy concept to the area and decided to team up.
“I heard about the trend popping up and always thought Chapel Hill would be a really good fit,” said Poitras, who previously worked as a landscape architect.
“Last Thanksgiving on the news there were these shelters that were all at capacity, begging for adopters. I thought, ‘Gosh, I wish someone would do something. Maybe I’ll be that person.’ ”
Cat Tales is in a two-story space on Chapel Hill’s West Franklin Street, next to Greek restaurant Kipos. The cats will have plenty of window space looking out on the bustling downtown streets. It’s actually permitted as a boarding facility, rather than a restaurant, Poitras said.
The cat cafe model is closer to the internet cafes of old, than the coffeeshops of today. Patrons essentially rent their time in the cafe, paying $12 an hour to hang out with the cats. Coffee, wine and beer, as well as some basic snacks, will also be for sale. The cafe’s food is prepared off-site at Phoenix Bakery in Pittsboro. Because the snacks and coffee are served in single-use containers and are not prepared at the cafe, Cat Tales is exempt from the state’s typical restaurant regulations.
Poitras expects the model to appeal most to UNC students missing their own pets back home.
“With the university here, it will be a great way for students missing their pets at home to get a kitty fix,” Poitras said. “Chapel Hill is a very animal-friendly area and people like the idea of socializing with and helping animals in need.”
If ever one should question whether the cafe’s cats are catty enough, Cat Tales’ Instagram account has a post of some thoroughly shredded toilet paper and an unapologetic-looking black cat standing close by.
Reservations are preferred at the cafe, Poitras said, and can be made on Cat Tales’ website at cattalescatcafe.com. Initially there are about 15 slots per hour.
The cafe’s address is 431 W. Franklin St., Unit 210.