BUCKTOWN — A gathering spot to hang out with cats and to possibly even adopt one or two will be opening soon in Bucktown, after a planned location in Lincoln Park did not happen.
Located at 1746 W. North Ave., The Windy Kitty Cat Cafe and Lounge is owned by artist and Irving Park resident Jenny Tiner.
Tiner, who signed a five-year lease on the storefront last week, said Monday that she plans to open The Windy Kitty Cat Cafe by the end of the month. She's collecting donated items from a "wish list" registry on Amazon.
"The opening goal is a black cat party the weekend of Halloween, with everyone dressing up as a black cat," Tiner said.
The cafe, which will be Chicago-themed and decked out in red, gray, white and turquoise, will offer free WiFi and lots of places to sit and hang out with up to 15 resident cats, who are all adoptable through Roscoe Village-based Alive Rescue.
There will be a $10 entry fee per person to hang out. If patrons are just shopping for a gift, there is no entry fee, Tiner said.
In July, Tiner raised $6,451 from 110 backers in an Indiegogo campaign aimed at opening the Windy Kitty Cat Cafe and Lounge initially on Clark Street in Lincoln Park. That location fell through due to a zoning issue, Tiner said.
Tiner's goal was to raise $35,000 but she says after the campaign ended, she got a generous donation from Kansas-based veterinary health company CEVA, as well as other donations to help foot the start-up bills.
Tiner said she got the idea for the cafe when she and her boyfriend and business partner David Rotter were traveling in Scotland last November.
"There was a cat cafe down the street from the airbndb we were at and we kept walking by it. We loved it," Tiner said.
Some possible events that Tiner has in mind for the cafe include yoga with cats, movie nights with cats and speed dating for humans.
"They will already have something in common, they both love cats," Tiner said.
The 42-year-old Tiner describes herself as "a serial entrepreneur" and artist who has held various teaching jobs and at one point operated an art gallery.
"Cats are my passion. I've always had dogs growing up and I'm incredibly allergic to cats but fell in love with my boyfriend's cat then started fostering them and volunteering at shelters... and here I am," Tiner said.
Tiner said she will be at the cafe full time once it opens and that Rotter, who has a day job, will help her out on the operational side of the business. The couple has three cats of their own at their home in Irving Park.
Currently, the type of coffee and pastries that will be offered is pending, as Tiner awaits more specifics on getting a beverage and food license.
"Chicago is so strict that they may not allow me to have coffee and pastries right away. The goal is to have locally sourced coffee and food. Maybe our inception won't be as cafe as people want it to be, but we eventually hope to have coffee and pastries," Tiner said.
Tiner's Indiegogo page calls it "an expectation-free cat lounge with free-roaming, adoptable cats ready to give & get some love while you enjoy locally and ethically sourced food and drinks."
Tiner said the cafe will have a maximum capacity of 15 people, an equal cat-to-human ratio as to not overwhelm the cats.
The cafe's website says its target market is "college students, young families introducing cats to their children, young professionals who have limited time and of course those who simply enjoy the company of cats."