As it turns out, underdog stories can have cats as the main character.
Purrington Cat Lounge, where "adoptable cats roam freely and await your visit" and patrons can pay a small entry fee for the chance to sip coffee alongside feline friends, boasted legendary adoption rates since its conception in January 2015.
However, despite its popularity, the cafe was expected to close in November of 2018 when the previous owners moved out of state. New owners Helen Harris and Garrett Simpson stepped in to take the meowntal (did someone order a cat pun?), and the innovative life-slash-business partner duo had big plans for the cafe's second life.
Harris and Simpson, cat people from the start, discussed owning a place like Purrington's since their early 20s. "We had a pipe dream about owning a bar with a cat component," Harris said. So when Simpson, who had been volunteering at Cat Adoption Team (CAT for short), heard about the purchase opportunity at Purrington's, it must have felt like a kismet moment. "It still doesn't seem real," said Simpson, "this fell into our lap." Fated or not, the kitty-loving couple partnered up with CAT, who sources adoptable cats from around the country, and began putting in the work to make this dream come true.
Harris and Simpson put extraordinary amounts of thought, as well as a wide network of creative friends, into Purrington's reincarnation. The new wood bordered windows alone - which allow allergic guests to still be part of the fun- revolutionized Purrington's into an even better space to frolic with felines.
Combine the remodel with an upgraded seasonal menu and stellar beer and wine selection (did I mention that Simpson has a culinary background?), and Purrington's immediately offered way more than the usual kitschy cat cafe.
Despite Harris and Simpson's efforts, however, the cafe still faced challenges. One being COVID compliance, no easy task in a cozy cafe that can easily overcrowd. The second being none other than a cat burglar!
"Of course the cats were our first concern," Simpson said. "But it didn't appear that anyone even went into the cat lounge. My heart was racing and I went in there to do a headcount. Meatball and Hamburger ran up excitedly because they thought they were being fed early."
If this photo is any indicator, it seems Hamburger (or is it Meatball?) is recovering just fine.
And yet, despite these difficulties, "we had a successful reopening," Simpson says. Successful in this case meaning a sold out sign on opening day, as every cat found its forever home. And since then, Purrington's has adopted out more than 80 cats. It's a trend that doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Clearly, this is the tale of a little cat cafe that could.
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