Cat-Ladying at Crumbs & Whiskers

This isn’t my first cat café post – cue in my previous posts on New York’s Meow Parlour and Paris’ Café des Chats. It’s not even my first post about Crumbs and Whiskers – see post on the launch of its kickstarter campaign. But it is my first post on DC’s eagerly anticipated cat café since it opened. And it’s my first post since actually going there!! My friend Cecile who writes The Worldly Bites has Gentlemeow Club member status so we snagged 2 weeknight spots during opening month and went to go play with the kittiens last night. Let me take you through our experience at Crumbs and Whiskers

Crumbs and Whiskers House Rules

 

Cat café is actually a bit of a misnomer when it comes to Crumbs and Whiskers. Yes, there’s cats. Plenty of them actually. But it’s not really a café at all. It’s more of a space to hang out with cats. The 2-story Georgetown house on O Street is actually quite narrow. The foyer, despite the best effort of the resident cat-greeter and of the café’s bubbly owner Kanchan Singh, is not really the most welcoming area. Upon checking in for your appointed time slot, you’ll be asked to sign a waiver if you haven’t already done so online and shown a quick menu of drink items, like coffee, that can be ordered and delivered from the place across the street. Unlike at Meow Parlour, you’re not required to disinfect your hands or take off your shoes, which is good because I’m not sure where you’d be able to store them at Crumbs and Whiskers. I’ll be curious to see how they handle coats this winter… After glancing at the house rules that are stated on the entrance wall, cat-lovers can make their way through the first floor or up the stairs to find a spot to settle at. Which is easier said than done. By the time Cecile and I arrived, at 6PM on the dot, and checked it, all the seats at the café were occupied by either a sleeping cat or a lady desperately waiting for a cat, any cat, to wake up. 

Crumbs & Whiskers

 

Quite frankly, Crumbs and Whiskers felt crowded. The cats looked peaceful and relaxed. Most were sleeping, which is what cats do, and that seemed amazing given how and busy everyone was around them. The minute a cat would wake up or show any willingness to play it would be surrounded by 5 girls all trying to get its attention. At Meow Parlour, in New York, my friend Caitlin and I sat and chatted peacefully while sipping the cups of coffee we had brought in from the Parlour’s coffee and macaron shop around the corner. A handful of other people were doing the same, playing with the occasional awake kitty that would deign pay attention to them for a few minutes before hopping off to a higher spot. Same in Paris’ Café des Chats, which actually is more of a tea-house than a ca and serves a full menu of food items since, you know, the French aren’t as uptight about food regulations 😉  At both, patrons seemed to be enjoying each other’s company, in a nice place that just happened to have a lot of cats. At Crumbs and Whiskers it felt more like people were only there to see (and play with) cats. 

Crumbs & Whiskers

All in all, I’m glad I checked out Crumbs and Whiskers but I probably won’t be back until the hype dies down a little. And when I do go back, I’ll pick a time slot that will be less busy, like the middle of the day on a Tuesday for example. But I’ll definitely encourage you to visit if you’re looking to adopt a cat (or more), though, again, not on evenings or weekends. All of the resident-kitties at Crumbs and Whiskers are available for adoptions through the Washington Humane Society and 9 of them have already moved on to forever home, which is really great given that the café has only been open for a month. As for me, if I want to get ignored by a black cat, I might save $10 and stay at home for now 😉 

Crumbs & Whiskers

Postcard from New York: Meow Parlour

Meow ParlourCrumbs & Whiskers‘ kickstarter campaign has raised over $35,000, has gotten all of the necessary permits from the D.C. government and, this just in, officially signed a lease for a Georgetown location. So Washington is definitely getting a cat café in the near future though it probably won’t open until late summer. And until it does, I thought I’d share what I hope Crumbs & Whiskers will be like. And that’s basically Meow Parlour.

Meow Parlour is New York’s first, adn to date only, cat café. Or perhaps I should say a space with cats, where you can bring coffee purchased at another location around the corner. Unlike Paris’ cat cafe, Cafe des Chats (which actually is more of a teahouse than a café), D.C.’s Crumbs & Whiskers will also technically not really be a café. The US has stricter restrictions on food service industry regulations that basically mandate that kitchens be not only cat-free but also in a completely separate space. When I talked to Crumbs & Whiskers‘ founder, Kanchan Singh, at her kickstarter campaign launch (yes, I’m pretty into this cat café business) she mentioned partnering with a food provider in order to comply with health code regulations. Just like at Meow Parlour, you’ll basically be paying for play time with kitties… and you can chose to bring in pastries and/or coffee from an approved vendor along. For Meow Parlour, that approved vendor is Macaron Parlour, an East Village bakery I first discovered when it was just a booth at Union Square Holiday Market and have enjoyed visiting since, even when they make crazy flavours like Cheetos macarons (which are actually quite delicious by the way). Macarons and cats are basically two of my favourite things, so the minute online reservations opened for Meow Parlour I booked two spots to check it out during a business trip to New York. I dragged my friend Caitlin, who may not love cats nearly as much as I do, but can’t resist the appeal of macarons, and checking out a hot new local business.

Before getting to Meow Parlour, we actually swung by Meow Parlour Patisserie just around the corner to pick up a coffee and some macarons, including some adorable Hello Kitty looking ones.

Meow Parlour

We then entered Meow Parlour, where the first thing we were asked to do is sign a lengthy waiver, take off our shoes and sanitize our hands. In New York in February this wasn’t my favourite thing to do so if you go, be warned: wear pretty socks or make sure you’ve got a good pedicure going! Once inside, you’ll find the space bright, clean and chic. Also, of course, full of cats! There’s definitely a strong cat-theme but everything is done very tastefully. There’s a wall of cats of course, with pictures of the current residents along with their “purrsonality type” but there’s no tacky cat trees.

Wall of cats at Meow Parlour

Instead there’s a full wall bookshelf with nooks and crannies and holes that allow the kittens to hop up and down, hide in scratchers at the top or lay next to you and a tasteful Le Chat pillows as you read The Cat in The Hat (or another cat themed book) from the library.

I love the design of the space at Meow Parlous! (picture courtesy Meow Parlour)

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

Before even entering Meow Parlour, you’ll probably spot a few kitties observing the traffic on Hester Street from oversized white wooden letters that spell the word “meow” at the floor to ceiling window at the front.

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

Back towards the shelves, there’s also soft cushions on the floors surrounding low hexagonal white coffee tables with see-through tops and cat beds inside, as well as cat head shaped holes on the sides. There’s typically a cat or two inside the table as well and you can watch them sleep peacefully 😉 If you’re here to get some work done, there’s high top tables and free wi-fi. Cats, it is a well known fact, love nothing more than laying on computer keyboards while you’re trying to write a blog post… so hopefully you have realistic expectations about how much work you can actually get done at Meow Parlour. And if you just want to play with some cats, there’s plenty of toys laying around and plenty of cats willing to chase stuff around.

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since visiting, I have loved following Meow Parlour on social media since it opened. That’s another thing that the New York cat cafe does really well and I can’t believe there’s actually someone on their payroll whose job it is to hang out with cats of day, take pictures of them and post them on social media (follow Meow Parlour on twitter, instagram and facebook). Add the fact that there’s macarons involved in the business too and, well, you can pretty much guess this is my dream job. All jokes aside (I’m actually not really joking) the folks at Meow Parlour do a great job of updating followers on new resident kittens and on letting them know who found his or her forever home. Because, of course, all of the cats at Meow Parlour are available for adoption. In that regard, Meow Parlour and Crumbs & Whiskers, which will follow the same model, are kind of halfway houses for cats… it’s not quite like being in a shelter and the idea is that they shouldn’t stay there very long. I can only hope that Crumbs & Whiskers will be as tastefully a space as Meow Parlour and that it will enjoy the same level of adoption rates. There’s definitely been a lot of turn-over at Meow Parlour since it’s opened and that’s a sign that it’s doing something right! I certainly hope for the same success rate for the cats at Crumbs & Whiskers, which will all come from the Washington Humane Society.

If you’re interested in checking out Meow Parlour when you’re in New York, they take a limited number of walk-ins so you should definitely consider making a reservation online at meowparlour.com. A half hour of kitty time will set you back $4 and you can book up to 5 hours. They have children hours too if you have kids (check the website for details). Meow Parlour is at 46 Hester Street in the Lower East Side, and Meow Parlour Patisserie is around the corner at 34 Ludlow Street. All pictures unless otherwise noted were taken by me back in February 2015.

DC’s Crumbs and Whiskers off to a Great Start

Crumbs and Whiskers

Crumbs and Whiskers’ founder Kanchan Singh kicks off the cat cafe’s kickstarter campaign


I’ve been making the cat café rounds lately. Last November, I visited both Café des Chats locations in Paris. More recently, I swung by Meow Parlour in New York City, and enjoyed a Hello Kitty themed macaron while hanging out with a bunch of adoptable cats. So, obviously, while I have my own BFF (Best Furry Friend) already, I’m thrilled that there’s a plan to bring a cat café concept to the D.C. area. And apparently, I’m not the only one. Last Sunday, some 50 people showed up at Penn Social for the launch of Crumbs & Whiskers’ kickstarter campaign. A campaign which, by the way, reached its goal within 24 hours and has already surpassed its stretch goal (update: it’s currently at $25,000… meaning, hello CAT WHEEL!). Not bad for a concept that still hasn’t actually signed a lease (though is rumoured to be looking at space in Georgetown… womp womp!)

The scene at Crumbs and Whiskers' Kickstarter Launch Party

The scene at Crumbs and Whiskers’ Kickstarter Launch Party

Crumbs and Whiskers‘ founder Kanchan Singh is a bubbly 24 year girl who just quit her consulting job to focus full time on this new venture. I had a blast at the event, though I realize I need better crazy cat-lady clothes 😉 It was great meeting her and her brother as well as her group of supportive friends. It’ll be interesting to see where Crumbs and Whiskers ends up, and what concept it ultimately becomes since D.C. regulations probably prevent it from being a traditional cat café… the launch party and success of the kickstarter campaign shows that there’s definitely a receptive audience (myself included) in Washington…