NYC's First Cat Cafe: Meow Parlour

On their walk home one evening after closing up their Manhattan macaron shop, pastry chef Christina Ha and her husband, Simon Tung, heard the cries of an abandoned cat.

The workaholic couple, stressed with running their 8-month-old fledgling business, found the emaciated cat with white paws, had him checked out by a veterinarian and gave him a name: Mr. Socks. Over time, the couple began delegating more work to others at the pastry shop, in order to “go home and play with Mr. Socks.”

The universe continued to throw cat-shaped signs their way, including a “For Rent” sign across the street from the bakery. “What if we could just go over there right now and hang out with cats?” Ms. Ha posed to one of her bakers, Emilie Legrand, who is also her partner in the cat cafe along with their third macaron location.

Prior to moving to the United States two years ago, Ms. Legrand had visited several cat cafes overseas, including one in Paris and another in Japan, where such coffeehouses have become as ubiquitous as Starbucks.

Nearly 18 months after finding Mr. Socks, the much-anticipated Meow Parlour, New York City’s first official cat cafe, will open Monday on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Customers will be able to share a cup of coffee with a group of about dozen rescue cats, Ms. Ha said in an interview before the store’s opening.

Read the complete story, originally published for The Wall Street Journal.