Photos: First Week at Catitude Cat Cafe

November 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

PHOTOS AND WORDS BY SEAN RAYFORD

cat cafe columbia sc 194068cat cafe columbia sc 194068Catitude Cat cafe in West Columbia, SC on November 16, 2017. Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

University of South Carolina grad Andres Ortega had a nice job in corporate America. That is, until he and his girlfriend Maria Garcia took a trip in the drive-thru of the Sonic on Assembly St.

“When we were ordering we saw homeless kitties there. It was on of those cold, wet, rainy days in Columbia and we felt heartbroken that there was very little that we could do.” says Ortega.

The next day he drove into his work headquarters, turned in his ID card and his keys to the company car and told his employer that he was opening a cat cafe. “They had a look of shock on their face. I kinda just ran out the door, hopped in the car and left.”

catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 189194catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 189194Opening day at Catitude Cat Cafe on State St. in West Columbia,SC on Nov. 10, 2017. Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Last Friday morning when Ortega pulled out his keys to unlock the front door of Catitude Cat Cafe there were about twenty folks waiting for the business to open for the first time. He fumbled them and knelt down in front of Garcia on the West Columbia sidewalk and proposed. She said yes and they had about 45 seconds before getting down to business.

“We have definitely tied our entire lives into this business so I feel it was a great way to show our customers our lives and to welcome them.” says Garcia who is also a current student at USC.

The cafe, located in the former spot of Cafe Strudel next to New Brookland, gives folks an opportunity grab some coffee and decompress with more than a dozen cats in the second story of the building. Most of the cats are available for adoption and there is an hourly fee for the kitty floor.

 

catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 188765catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 188765Opening day at Catitude Cat Cafe on State St. in West Columbia,SC on Nov. 10, 2017. Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

WHY OPEN A CAT CAFE IN WEST COLUMBIA?
“I graduated from USC and got my big boy job in corporate America and I was flying around everywhere. And it was a nice job because the company paid for all my expenses: my meals, flights, hotels, cars, etc, but the only thing I didn't have was when I was there, was [Maria]. I missed her and I missed our cat,” says Ortega, “So what I would do, was pop into cat cafes in the larger cities that I'd be traveling to for business and when I was there I would hang out there and it would make me feel better. About missing her, about missing our cat. And on the weekends I'd come back here and I saw we didn’t have one.”

catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 189215catittude cat cafe west columbia photos 189215Opening day at Catitude Cat Cafe on State St. in West Columbia,SC on Nov. 10, 2017. Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

blog-angry-whale-sc-nov2017blog-angry-whale-sc-nov2017sid nancy

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