New coffee shop combines the best things in life
Although Beacon’s latest cafe hasn’t opened yet, owner Jessica Cruz-Strika has the regulars figured out.
There’s Charlie, who’s warming up after a hard life on the streets of Newburgh; Marley, who’s smart and outgoing; Autumn, who’s shy and prefers to hang out in the back of the cafe. Louisa is a runner, along with the one nicknamed Uptown Boy who is sitting in the corner, quietly licking his butt.
These five — along with Becky, a dead ringer for Louisa — are the founding cats of Beans Cat Cafe, a combination coffee shop and cat adoption agency that opens Saturday (Nov. 14) at 325 Main St.
The concept isn’t unique; Cruz-Strika estimates there are least 120 “cat cafes” in the U.S. But it’s a perfect fit for the former restaurant manager, who was smitten in 2017 when her husband brought home two kittens.
“I wasn’t allowed to have cats as a kid,” she explains. “So I dove headfirst into crazy cat lady.”
In March, about a week before the COVID-19 shutdown, Cruz-Strika quit her job to focus on opening the cafe. The pandemic slowed that process but also gave her time to navigate the regulatory and logistical challenges of opening up an eatery populated by animals, she said.
First up was finding a landlord willing to allow multiple cats in a commercial space, and then convincing the city to permit it.
The “cat lounge” is separated by a glass wall, keeping the felines away from the food and beverage operations. The space, formerly the Sexy Nails salon, already had a robust ventilation system.
After making a purchase, customers will be able to sit at a table outside the lounge if they want to observe the cats. If they want to hang with the cats, it’s $7 for a half-hour or $12.50 for an hour, with a limit of six people and health restrictions in place, including masks. The brave or foolish can bring in their laptops and attempt to work — just like at home. When a cat needs a break, it can retreat to an “employees-only” section of the lounge.
A bulletin board has details about the history and personality of each cat, who come from the Hudson Valley Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Poughkeepsie, which handles any adoptions. Cruz-Strika says her goal is to help 300 find new homes by this time next year.
Since the cats moved in earlier this week, the display windows have often been filled with the faces of passersby. As Uptown Boy continues his rigorous cleansing, two young women pause at the window and point at him. He stops and bounds up to the ledge, inches from the women on the other side of the glass, kneading his paws on a pillow. The women shriek like teenagers and pull out their phones to take pictures.
“This is why I opened this place,” says Cruz-Strika, watching the scene. “I would have 100 percent been those girls.”
Beans Cat Cafe will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 845-630-9195. Customers can make reservations at bit.ly/beans-cat-cafe to visit the cat lounge, although there will also be walk-in slots.
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