Crowdfunding, Cats and Controversy: Austin’s new Blue Cat Cafe under fire in a Gentrification war

This new hip cafe in Austin’s historic East side has become a place for cat lovers and coffee drinkers alike, but has also become a centerpiece of Austin’s neighborhood conservation and gentrification struggle.  

Kickstarter for Kitties

Texas is now home to one of eight cat cafes–a place that is a combination of a coffee shop and adoption center–in the United States. The idea to open Austin’s first cat cafe drove Rebecca Gray, one of three co-owners of Blue Cat Cafe, to launch a Kickstarter and call-to-action for cat lovers in February of 2015 with a goal of $60,000. By the end of April, they had surpassed their goal, raising $62,533 with the help of 1,146 generous donators.

Cats, Coffee and Controversy

Blue Cat Cafe opened on Saturday, October 17th only to be met by protesters speaking out about the demolition of Jumpolin, a party supplies store that used to exist across the street before being demolished and replaced by Blue Cat’s parking lot. Signs were held, stating “STOP GENTRIFICATION” and a chant of “Save East Austin” murmured across the block. The cafe had no affiliation with the takedown of Jumpolin and hope that the community will warm up to their cafe. New employee of Blue Cat Cafe, Katherine Gualy, shared some insight with us:

“I think this cafe is a place where people can just come and relax for a minute. Drinking a coffee in a room full of cats is just about as therapeutic as it can get! Even though there’s a lot of people who are angry at us for the location we chose, we’re not letting them stop us.”

Blue Cat Cafe is located at 1400 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702. Check out their website for more details.