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Chicago's First Cat Café Fails Health Inspection Needed For License

By Linze Rice | August 3, 2017 8:23am | Updated on August 4, 2017 10:47am
 The Tree House Humane Society's long-awaited Purrfect Roast Catfe failed its initial health inspection on the day the organization opened its doors to major donors and media.
Tree House Cat Cafe
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WEST RIDGE — On the day Tree House Humane Society opened its doors to invited media and major donors of its new multimillion dollar facility for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, another guest also showed: the health inspector. 

According to city records, an inspector from the Department of Public Health visited the 7225 N. Western Ave. building on July 28 to review the cat-centric organization's long-awaited "cat café," Purrfect Roast Catfe, in order for the small, in-house establishment to receive its license. 

The café — a tucked-away section of the front lobby containing a coffee machine counter and a table next to a room with adoptable cats — however failed to pass the walk-through. 

Inspectors noted the second-floor employee break room, which is also used as a food preparation area, did not have a hand sink, there was no three-chambered sink for washing dishes, and a back flow device for an espresso machine had also not been installed, records show.

The café does not serve food, but allows customers to serve themselves a variety of drinks.

The space was re-inspected on Wednesday, but the city left its new report in "draft form," which means "that it has yet to be determined whether they passed or failed until other issues can be resolved," a health department representative said Thursday morning.

The initial review of the café came on the same day as a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by media, major donors and local officials, such as Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th).

While the rest of the facility is open, the café isn't slated to begin taking customers until sometime later this month, Tree House officials told DNAinfo at its ribbon-cutting.

Three days later after the failed inspection, Tree House's Development Director Debbie Hinde told a morning show host from Windy City Live who was touring the café the reason it would not open until August was because Tree House was conducting "tastings" with the public "to help choose the menu."

However, DNAinfo was provided a menu from Hinde weeks earlier on July 12 which listed items such as Clawsome Breakfast (English Breakfast Tea), Kitty Cat Chai, Cat-puccino, Espurresso Shot and Purring Mango Iced Tea.

During the Friday ceremony, menus were also placed on the wall above the self-serve drink machines which make up the café.

Hinde did not return request for comment, but on Wednesday Tree House announced via social media it would open half of the café on Thursday while it finished "working closely with the City of Chicago on the finishing steps of the cafe side."

The part that will open is a cat visitation room adjacent to the coffee area, where visitors can look in on, visit with and/or adopt cats.

Though the beverage part of the café is not allowed to serve yet, the "lounge" opening will include complimentary coffees and teas. Guests can also provide feedback on the menu.

Photos by DNAinfo/Linze Rice