We exist to help rescue cats certainly, but it's about people too:
In our almost year and a half of existence, The Cat Café South Beach created 10 new jobs, engaged over 37 committed volunteers, provided community service hour credits to student volunteers, and created a summer camp program for children to teach them how to care for and respect animals. Our sparkly clean facility has perked up a particularly derelict block of Washington Ave and supports the city's plans for revitalization. Our suppliers are local small businesses too. We care deeply about the environment and are a founding member of #plasticfreemb. We are a family-friendly attraction that provides a safe, peaceful, happy place for people to come to - whether or not they like cats.
Our financial crisis wasn't supposed to happen. The business was very carefully planned and well funded. I sold my apartment in NYC to pay for the buildout, survive the endless delays and obstacles the city imposes on any new brick and mortar endeavor, and have a respectable reserve to carry the business and myself through it's first startup year. And we made it! My accountant was pleased. The SBDC used us as an exemplary case study in 2019. The mayor of Miami Beach declared January 23rd " Cat Café Day". We were poised for success in 2020 despite the surprisingly weak February that was Super Bowl. Our best season was just around the corner.
And then Covid19. And then curfews imposed by the county. The beach is closed. Storefronts are boarded up on Lincoln Road. Visitors aren't visiting.
The Cat Café itself closed for the safety and well-being of humans and felines in early March and re-opened both the Café and Purradise on the 27th of May. Our already small café now operates at 50% capacity limits, a reduced staff, shortened hours of operation, and lengthened hours for cleaning and sanitation.
It's never been about making money but we cannot exist without it. The coffee and treats we sell and the contributions received from visitors for time spent in Purradise with the cats are what help keep a roof over the 30 or so fuzzy heads in residence and pay the salaries of the baristas.
We've been resourceful. Folks can book time to visit with cats "in spirit and in their imaginations". The engaging Purr-lattes instructor donated her time, declined compensation and took our signature Purr-lattes stretch class on line to raise funds. Supporters have shared our endeavors on their social media platforms like crazy. And many kind, generous people have simply donated - unsolicited.
But the reality is that we don't have enough visitors and the future remains very uncertain.
It's a terribly difficult time right now - for everyone. Except our feline residents. >grin<
Please know that the cats on premises - all 21 , are being well fed and cared for and they're fine - just a little lonesome for more human companionship.
The business though, is not fine at all.
I applied immediately for every loan and grant that the business qualified for, but those sources ran out of funds too soon for us to benefit. And at this stage, there is no commercial loan that can save a small business that hasn't generated revenue in 4 months.
Our landlord is stellar and has been incredibly supportive and flexible. Payroll is a priority and the humans I can still employ get paid on time and in full. Payroll taxes and workers compensation are paid. The IRS is all paid up. But bills for utilities, vet care, food and litter, new required sanitation supplies, scheduled repairs and maintenance, leased equipment, and other taxes are mounting. Those creditors are not flexible. We lost two entire orders of perishable inventory pre and post shutdown because we serve fresh products and baked goods and I was too optimistic on re-opening. We need financial assistance quickly.
It is humbling to ask for financial help. It was never supposed to be that way. In the past, donations received all went to the rescue organization we supported to help off-set some of their veterinary bills.
The business is lean and efficient. The cats are happy and the humans - employees, volunteers, and visitors are fiercely committed. I was proud that we were self-funded and self sustaining, but we are no longer. I still believe with all my heart that The Cat Café South Beach is worthy.
I believe that we have made the world a better, happier place in however a tiny way. I signed a 15 year lease for the business in 2018 because I believed we could make a difference and was committing for the long haul with everything I had.
The total I asked for here will help keep the lights on for a couple more months. During this time we will launch a special Kitty Day Camp for kids from 6-12 years that follows the county's new guidelines for day camps for children. We promote humane education and believe that it's important to teach children to care for and respect animals because that makes us better human beings and as a society.
We will continue to adopt resident cats to worthy guardians and will continue to be the nice place for humans and cats to enjoy each other's company. And we will continue to serve really good locally roasted coffee. For as long as we can.
If you like what we do, and maybe share our hope and optimism, won't you please donate and help save us and our efforts to save more cats and continue to make Miami Beach a kinder place for residents (the 2 and 4-legged kind) and visitors?
To learn more about The Cat Café South Beach and For more ways to help please visit our website . And please, if you can, do stop in to say hello. The cats miss you! #SmallBusinessRelief
- Rebecca Nesset
- Angelique Ferrentino
- Amy Schaller
- Christine Romero
- Matthew Marderness
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