Cat cafés have been on the rise in the United States for the past few years, but one has still yet to be established in Mid-Missouri. That is until now.
When Ryan Kennedy and his family visited a cat café in Seoul, South Korea, for the first time in 2016, Ryan decided Columbia could be the perfect place for this kind of business.
Papa’s Cat Café will not only offer an alternative atmosphere for coffee drinkers, but will also provide benefits to both cats and customers. Ryan will work together with the Boone County Animal Care Shelter with the mission to foster adoptable cats until they can find their forever home.
The play room at the café will also give those looking to adopt a better chance to learn the personalities of the cats within a home-like environment. Ryan also believes the café will be a great way for students and those living in apartments that don’t allow animals to be able to get their animal fix.
Despite being first time business owners, Ryan and his wife have been able to take fast steps toward opening the business this June. So far they have already received their food managers certification, their animal boarding license from the Department of Agriculture and have received approval from the Medical & Veterinary Board of Missouri. They have now been in the construction stages where the café will be at 14 S. Second St. near Lucky’s Market in Columbia and hope to soon begin the decorating process.
The appearance of the café will be themed after Ryan’s favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, who also held a love for cats and whose nickname was “Papa.” It will feature a combination of props related to Hemingway’s books, as well as some of the items you can see at Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida. All props have also been pre-cat approved by the Kennedy’s cat, Hardy.
Having grown up owning multiple cats throughout his childhood, Ryan has always been an avid cat lover. He was raised 20 minutes outside of Columbia and earned his teaching degree at the University of Missouri. He then taught high school English for 12 years until he decided he wanted to pursue something new.
“I’d been trying to figure out what I wanted to do since I decided I wanted to leave teaching and I was trying to find something that would make me happier or keep me interested, and I love cats and I’m also kind of a secret baker,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t something a lot of people knew about me, but I love to cook and I love to bake, so I kind of saw this opportunity to combine a couple of passions.”
Thankfully, Ryan’s passions seemed to have led him in the right direction. Having put on a KickStarter fundraiser, Papa’s Cat Café has already seen great support within the community. The fundraiser showed 250 backers donated more than $15,000 toward the café with an average donation of $65. Papa’s Cat Café also currently has 2,300 followers on their Facebook page and 400 Instagram followers, and Ryan has received several calls from Mid-Missourians to ask if the café has opened yet.
Until then, Ryan has enjoyed building props, learning all the small things it takes to run a business, and perfecting his pastry recipes to live out his dream.
“One of the things I want to come out of this café is to tell people that it’s never too late to chase a dream, and I hope that people will help to make this dream a successful one,” Ryan said.