After announcing its debut in January, KitTea made headlines around the world as the very first cat cafe in San Francisco—and North America. But as numerous cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Oakland, have announced their own plans for cat cafes, KitTea has remained in-the-works, without even an announcement of a space, much less construction. It was an especially curious phenomenon because the founders, Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky, had managed to raise $63K, even more than their goal, in a crowdfunding campaign.
But as with so many in the SF real estate market these days, KitTea is finding prices to be a lot higher than they anticipated. Hatt told the SF Business Times that while the duo have locked in on a space in Hayes Valley, the landlord needs a big-ticket guarantee, and a build-out that will allow the cafe to divide in two, so the cats and the tea will be in separate quarters that are up to Health Department standards, will raise the bill to $100K more than they currently possess. Hatt's been negotiating the lease on and off for five months. "We felt the lease was a little too expensive in the beginning, but then it turned out to be the best one we found," she told the SFBT. "Unfortunately, the lease went up (while we were looking at other locations) because the market changed."
To make KitTea a reality, Hatt and Braginsky are now seeking to raise that additional $100K from crowdfunding supporters willing to chip in a little extra, as well as angel investors who would receive a percentage ownership in KitTea. Still, it's unlikely they'll open in 2014, much less before the Oakland project, Cat Town Cafe, which will likely be the U.S.' first permanent cat cafe if it sticks its projected September opening date.
· Cat cafe underestimates SF real estate, needs more money [SFBT]
· Oakland's Cat Cafe, Cat Town Cafe, Snags a Location [~ ESF ~]
· Here Comes KitTea, San Francisco's First Cat Cafe [~ ESF ~]