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Happy Cat Cafe is testing out their 'new normal'

Dodge says the shutdowns mandated by the 2020 global pandemic were not the end for the café, but an opportunity for renovation.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids' only cat cafe re-opened its doors Jan 2.

The cafe is influenced by what owner Kati Dodge saw in Asian culture and different U.S. city cat cafe concepts, as well as her own love for cats.

“It's a funny story, but I actually saw it first on Facebook, and it was a BuzzFeed article that said cat cafes are a thing in Asia. I looked at it and I was like, 'there's not one in the United States, I need one.' So I opened one in Grand Rapids, but obviously there's a lot more to that story,” Dodge said.

Long story short, she created one in her hometown with an American twist, and Dodge filled up her cat cafe with rescues.

Her cafe would give people the opportunity to play with cats they were looking to adopt or just play with different cats in general for fun.

Either way, Dodge says the shutdowns mandated by the 2020 global pandemic were not the end for the cafe, but an opportunity for renovation.

“This experience is supposed to make you feel super relaxed, it's supposed to be really fun and it's supposed to be a joyful experience versus something that makes you feel sad,” Dodge said.

The new pet cafe colors being bright pink and gray to echo their newest fostering partner, Michelle’s Rescue.

The general way to schedule to come and play with the cats has stayed the same but the amount of people and price has now changed.

“The way that we're making it safe for our customers and for our staff members, is that private, full households will be able to come only. It's under six people, and they should all be from the same household so you can come in and take off your masks and you're just together in the room and we have a safe little spot. Anywhere that you're not in the room you're going to have to wear a mask because we don't want to get our staff members sick or anything,” Dodge said. 

Credit: Leona Dunn

But even with this new lay out, the cafe is still currently planning for the future, understanding that state rules could change any month due to the ongoing pandemic.

“So this is finally the reopening right now, we're opening for six-guests groups today and then as soon as we get the word from the governor we can start moving into smaller groups too,” Dodge said.

The cafe part of the business will also be open for the first time since it opened back in 2017. They will be offering take-out until other indoor eating restrictions are lifted beginning mid-January. To learn more, click here. 

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