Jan. 13—The Kokomo Humane Society's Cat Café had just begun to bring in regular customers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Then, as restrictions began to loosen, the coffee machine broke.
Karen Wolfe, executive director of the Humane Society, explained the nonprofit wanted to hold off on reopening the café after the initial setbacks — waiting until it could put more organizational effort into the café's services. This week, the café opened its doors to customers again.
"What we had hoped for years ago is just now coming to fruition," Wolfe said. "So I'm really excited about it."
For now, the café will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. However, coffee will not be served after 4 p.m.
The Humane Society is also considering opening on Mondays.
The goal of the café, Wolfe said, is to simultaneously raise funds for the Humane Society while finding homes for the cats that roam the café. The cats are in a glass-walled enclosure that patrons can enter for $5.
When the café initially opened, Wolfe explained, it was operated by volunteers who served drip-brewed coffee and snacks.
This time around, the café is serving treats from various local organizations, such as Dan's Variety Bakery, Moore's Pie Shop and Indulgence Bakery.
Wolfe added the treats offered will change depending on which day visitors come to the café. For example, pies will be served on Fridays and doughnuts will be served on Saturdays.
The shop is continuing to look for partners, Wolfe said, and is open to restaurants and bakeries reaching out.
The Humane Society also brought in a full time barista for its reopening, Stormy Sullivan.
With a full-time barista, the coffee menu has expanded, now offering espresso-based drinks, such as the $4 "catpucinno" or "latte meowchiato." A standard coffee or espresso will set you back $2.
Sullivan had initially been hired as a cleaner at the Humane Society. But, during the job interview, Wolfe decided she would be a good fit for the café.
So far, Sullivan said, the job has been enjoyable.
"It's a very calm, nice place to work," Sullivan said. "I'm an animal person, so that's automatically a bonus right there. ... It's just a really good feeling to work here, coming in and seeing the smiles on the faces."
The first week back has gone well, Wolfe said. As an added bonus, the café had helped three cats find homes by Friday morning.
"We've had more business and more payments, more people eating and drinking than we ever had before," Wolfe said.
James Bennett III can be reached at 765-454-8580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.