Gato Café is the concept for one of the first-ever cat cafés in the US. Cat cafes are extremely popular in Asia, and, in recent times, have gained quite a bit of traction throughout Europe. Gato Café aims to mimic the concept of these Asian and European cafes.
Essentially, the café would be like any other, but with cats scampering all around. For a nominal cover charge, people would be able to visit this café, and observe and play with the cats. If you are a fan of the show, Amazing Race, you might recall a scene that was set in a Thai cat café.
Adriana Montano is the person who came up with the idea for Gato Café. She has culinary experience, and also worked as a fundraiser and an advocate at the Alley Cat Allies, an NPO created for cats. She decided to join hands with her husband and ex-Army National Guard member, Michael Meng, to establish Gato Café.
Owing to her passion for cats and her prior work experience, Adriana refers to herself as a cat-woman. During her time at Alley Cat Allies, she came across an article that talked about the increase in cat cafes in Japan.
The concept of such a café intrigued Adriano, and she decided to create her own cat café in Boca Raton, Florida. She first came up with the idea for Gato in 2014.
She launched an IndieGoGo campaign in June 2014, hoping to raise $75,000 for her initiative. However, the campaign fell well short of this objective, and only managed to raise a modest $1,210.
The crowd-funding campaign ended in July 2014, around the time that Adriana was scheduled to make her Shark Tank debut.
Is Gato Café an Active Business?
Following her appearance on Shark Tank, Adriana and Gato Café attracted a great deal of media attention. Encouraged by the publicity, Adriana decided to launch a second crowd-funding campaign. However, the effort once again ended in tears, as a total of just twelve people chipped in and made contributions.
Due to a dearth of funding, Gato Café was unable to progress beyond the concept stage.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Adriana made her Shark Tank appearance on episode 29 of the sixth season of the show. She was looking for an investment of $100,000 in exchange for a 20% stake in Gato Café – a valuation of $500,000.
Adriana was accompanied by a small bunch of kittens, which Nick and Lori found very cute. Lori, Nick, and Daymond began to play with a cat; Kevin and Mark, however, were in no mood to get involved.
She starts her pitch, saying that 70 percent of cats in rescue shelters end up being killed. She wanted to do something to address this and, since cat cafes are becoming increasingly popular around the world, this is the idea that she came up with.
Lori wanted to know the tentative location for the café; Adriana responded that she plans to open Gato in the Floridian region of Boca Raton.
Mark finds the whole concept of a cat café rather amusing. He says that, although he likes cats, he does not like the idea of Gato Café. He is out.
Kevin asks about the floor on which Adriana was planning to build the café, to which she responded that she was hoping for the ground floor. Kevin remarked that she should consider going for the top floor, as that would allow her to simply open the window and get rid of the cat problem. Adriana did not appreciate this insensitive comment, and did not shy away from expressing her disappointment at the remark.
Nick wanted to know how the café would make money; Adriana told him that they would charge an entrance fee of $9, against which people would be able to spend time in the café, have a coffee and a few snacks, and spend time with the cats.
Kevin wanted to know if there are any restrictions in the US about serving food in environments that have cats roaming around. Adriana responds that, as per Floridian law, any establishment that only offers pre-packaged items and drinks does not qualify as a food establishment.
Daymond agrees with Adriana that cat cafes are becoming quite common in Japan and also springing up in a number of other places. Adriana chips in, saying that that very year, three cat cafes would be opening up in California – a piece of information that quite surprises Lori. Daymond then proceeds to mention the fundamental flaw in Adriana’s plan: the fact that she does not have an established property for her café makes the idea rather discouraging for the Sharks.
Nick says that Adriana might be on to something. In fact, he thinks that the idea for a cat café is quite cool and, if they had such a café in his hometown, he and his three sons would be regular visitors. However, like Daymond, just the mere concept is not enough for him to take a chance on Adriana, which is why he decided to go out of the deal.
Kevin says that he does not have a particularly pleasant history with cats (something that did not surprise Adriana), which is why he is not interested in investing in Adriana’s business.
Lori says that the fact that Adriana wants to save and rescue cats, is admirable. She wants Adriana to not give up but, at the moment, she does not want to invest in this idea. Daymond fully agrees with Lori, and asserts that Adriana’s idea is the right one, but she needs more than just an idea. Continuing to follow Lori’s lead, Daymond also excuses himself.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Below are a few other cat cafes in the US:
- Happy Tabby Cat Café
- Java Cats Café
- Cat Town Café
- Purringtons Cat Lounge
- Eat, Purr, Love
Our Final Thoughts
It seemed that Adriana’s idea was a promising one. However, the disappointments in her crowd-funding campaigns, coupled with her failure to secure a Shark Tank deal, meant that she did not have the funds required to convert her concept into a reality.