Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

At a New Strip District Cafe, Cats and Coffee

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

At a New Strip District Cafe, Cats and Coffee

Article excerpt

Java, Merlot, Bean, Latte and Zinfandel lounged on chairs and benches, greeting people who drank wine or coffee upstairs at The Colony Cafe in the Strip District.

The coffee shop and wine bar that opened on Thursday is lovely, but it's the 10 adoptable cats in the second-floor loft that makes Pittsburgh's first cat cafe special.

Black-and-gray Asti, 12, was especially friendly at the Wednesday night preview for media and other guests. Without invitation, she jumped up onto the laps of visitors.

Five or six of the cats were extremely friendly and playful. The others stayed on the fringes, watching the activity, and a black cat slept through the entire evening, curled up in a hooded cat bed.

The cats were given their tasty names at Animal Friends. To make sure they all got along, animal shelter staff had them living together for a while before moving them to their new living quarters at 1125 Penn Ave. The cats moved in several days before the opening and now seem at home there.

The first-floor bar and lounge and the upstairs Cat Lounge are all decorated in shades of gray and white. Food and drinks are prepared and served on the first floor, where the cats never go. Customers pay $8 an hour to take sweets, savories and drinks up to the second floor to hang out with the felines.

One wall of the loft is glass, so cats and people can look down and see everything that is going on downstairs.

Cafe owners Erik and Sue Hendrickson, who are in their mid-40s, left corporate jobs in Brooklyn last year "because we were burned out and ready for a second act," Mrs. Hendrickson said. New York City has multiple cat cafes, and Pittsburgh had none, so the couple moved here to start the city's first.

They now live in Shadyside with black cats Frank and Henry, both rescued years ago from a parking lot in Queens. Colony Cafe - a coffee shop, wine bar and cat cafe - is a full-time job for both of them.

For cats, the loft has soft beds, a cat-sized gray couch, a carpeted climbing tree, toys and a sisal-covered support pole that doubles as a scratching post. …

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