A home for cats and coffee lovers
Passion. It’s the one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common. Passion for an idea that you believe in. Passion for seeing your visions through. And passion to keep going when the going gets tough. Because it always does. Passion is something that Andy and Tamara Leicester, owners of Daily Mews Cat Cafe on Monroe Road in Charlotte, have in droves. Or in their case, colonies.
If you’ve never heard of a cat cafe, simply stated it’s a place where you can surround yourself in the company of cats for coffee, remote work, yoga, or any number of other reasons to clear your mind in a peaceful environment. The idea for cafes amid felines started in Taiwan in the late 1990s, and quickly spread throughout Asia. Today you can find cat cafes in most American cities.
But what makes Daily Mews different is their mission. And their mission is to help cats find loving homes. “We’ve both always loved cats,” explains Tamara. “And understanding the critical need for cat adoptions in Charlotte, we set out to create a business that helps bring adoptable cats and people together so that people can see the true nature of the animals.”
“Because each cat is definitely different,” Andy adds, as one of the fourteen cats in the Daily Mews colony curls up in his lap.
Launched in 2018, the couple had grown Daily Mews into a successful business before COVID-19. “Daily Mews has adopted out over 300 cats since opening,” Andy says. “But when the virus hit, we weren’t sure what would come next. Except that we still had a mission. The need for cat adoptions wasn’t going to disappear because of the virus.”
Remarkably, when Governor Cooper’s Stay at Home order was announced in late March, Andy, Tamara, and the Daily Mews staff were able to get all fourteen cats in their colony into foster homes in just one day. “We have a truly amazing community here,” Tamara says. “Our colony needed foster homes, and our community stepped up.”
And their passion for the mission didn’t stop because of the pandemic. “We actually had 25 adoptions out of our foster homes program while we were closed,” Andy says. “And each of the 14 cats we put into foster homes the day we closed in March were returned and have since been adopted out.”
Thanks to gifts, donations, and grants, Andy and Tamara were able to keep their mission going through Phase One of the pandemic. “The City of Charlotte’s Access to Capital Grant was particularly important to us for helping keep the lights on. It felt amazing to know that our city had our back. The grant, along with the remarkable support from our community, gave us the confidence to keep going through Phase One, and prepare to reopen stronger when the order was lifted.”
Part boutique gift shop and part cat paradise, Daily Mews Cat Cafe is fully licensed by the NC Department of Agriculture both as an animal shelter and boarding facility. It features a lovely aesthetic and is an amazing place to visit if you love animals, not just cats. But if you are looking to adopt a cat, the success rate of adoptions for Daily Mews is exceptionally high.
“When people visit cats in shelters, the animals are stressed,” Andy says. “Our idea was to make cats comfortable so that when people visit them, they see each cat’s true personality. We’re proud of our success rate homing cats.”
Even though they are working at 50% capacity for guests, and open to the public just four days a week, versus six before the pandemic, adoptions are strong. “People have become more isolated this year and are eager for companionship,” Tamara says. “And cats are a perfect remedy companion animal.”
As for entrepreneurs struggling to cope during this unprecedented year, Andy offers some good advice, “Don’t be afraid to pivot. For us, that meant asking for donations and seeking assistance through grants as a way to keep our core mission going. It was something we’d never done before. We were surprised to learn how much people cared and how much help was available. Don’t give up hope. Do whatever it takes to make it back. And pivot when you can.”
Passion. It’s something that drives every entrepreneur. And, thanks to people like Tamara and Andy, there are a lot of people and cats in Charlotte who appreciate it.