The Organic Cat Café & Music Lounge Comes to Greenville

by Roberta Bolduc

If you’re a cat lover and haven’t yet visited Greenville’s Organic Cat Café, you are in for a treat. Located at 123 College Street, right next door to the iconic Café and Then Some, the Organic Cat Café is currently home to 26 resident cats of all colors and stripes.

This brand new business, which opened its doors in November of 2017, is the brainchild of Jennifer Bronzel. She grew up in Germany and talks of the popularity of cat cafés in Europe and Asia, and in particular, Japan, where cat lovers have their choice of more than 150 such establishments to visit and receive their cat fix. A devout cat lover herself, Bronzel is also a savvy businesswoman who spent a few years researching and planning her dream of opening a cat café.

The path to her dream began while living in Liverpool, England, although she did not realize it. As a finance and administration manager for an international service provider in the automotive industry, she approached her company with the idea of transferring to Thailand where her German father and Thai mother were living in retirement. The company had a different idea, asking her to move to Decatur, Georgia, to supervise the move of their local office to Greenville, South Carolina, the home turf of BMW and their suppliers. She accepted the offer.

Three years later, she and her significant other, Ernesto Cardenas, were ready to set the wheels of her dream in motion. They found a tailor-made 2-story building with ample space and on-site parking—but it required renovation. Working 14 and 15 hours a day, the couple refurbished the building and created a cozy, relaxing atmosphere for both felines and humans. The next step was acquiring the cats. Foster Paws and especially IresQ, two of the local rescue organizations, came to the rescue and helped Bronzel find the right complement of kitties. Much time and attention was given to selecting the personalities that would make for a peaceful and happy environment. Therefore, most of the felines are permanent tenants, although there are some available for adoption. Check out the café’s furry residents at Organic-Cat-Cafe.com.

The word ‘café’ in the name, which implies serving food and drinks, presented a different challenge: meeting the city’s health regulations regarding food service in the presence of furry critters. The solution was to create a no-cat zone containing the food preparation space and a dining area (with glass wall to view the cats) which are separated from the main space by a double entryway, preventing curious cats from investigating. Customers who wish to eat or drink in the main room transport their purchases from the dining area. Currently the café serves drinks and snacks and will soon be offering the full menu with items such as paninis, quesadillas, sandwiches and freshly made waffles.

A question that can come up when a large group of cats reside indoors is the delicate question of litter boxes. The café has a designated cat litter room and several litter boxes throughout the building, mainly in areas not open to the public but accessible to the cats. An air purifier runs 24/7, and incense sticks and air fresheners are in place throughout the building.

Organic Cat Café is a place where those who don’t have the space or ability to have a cat can enjoy the experience. Those who do have cats may visit with other cat owners, cuddle with the cats and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. Bronzel notes that cats seem particularly comforting and non-judgmental to children, which raises the child’s self-esteem and makes it easier for the child to express him or herself. “Cats are much more than cute companions. They can help to relieve stress, and to improve people’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Today they are used for animal-assisted therapies (AAT) and can aid in reducing depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders.” Bronzel emphasizes that the café is the cats’ home. Guests are not allowed to bring their own pets in order to protect the resident cats’ health and since it’s important to maintain a relaxed, inviting space where the cats do not feel threatened.

In addition to hanging out with the kitty crowd, the café offers painting classes, art shows, cat ping pong with guests participating in ping pong tournaments, cat yoga (think goat yoga), live music and even DJs playing ambient, experimental music. The Café will serve as a communal creative space for local painters, artists, and musicians alike, to share and display their art. A $10 entry fee (children under 3 are free) buys you a drink and a guaranteed time of 1.5 hours to de-stress and nuzzle with the cats. Guests can stay as long as they want if there are no waiting customers outside. The Organic Cat Café is a unique experience you won’t want to miss.

Any additional event fees on website; cat yoga entrance fee normally $20, or $15 with RSVP. The Organic Cat Café is located at 123 College St., Greenville. For more information, go to Organic-Cat-Cafe.com or Facebook.com/OrganicCatCafe, or call 864-729-2450.

Roberta Bolduc is the publisher of and a contributor to Natural Awakenings Upstate.