A new cat cafe is coming to Honolulu. Popoki and Tea has signed a lease for a streetfront retail space at 3424 Wai‘alae Avenue in Kaimuki. The cat cafe/boba tea shop is targeting a late 2019 opening.
The 700-square-foot space is next door to pet supply boutique The Public Pet, where Popoki and Tea has been hosting once-a-month cat cafe events, or “pop-ups,” since June 2018. During the location search, Popoki and Tea founder and owner Liberty Peralta established the pop-ups to drum up brand awareness, build a community, and help find homes for kittens and cats from small local animal rescues and independent fosters. Over the past year, the monthly pop-ups have helped find homes for 64 kittens and cats, while attracting lines out the door.
Popoki and Tea will be a gathering place for potential adopters; animal lovers who live in non-pet-friendly rentals; and others looking for fun, relaxation and photo opportunities. “Our intimate cat cafe will be designed for the modern ‘crazy cool’ cat person,” Peralta says. “We’re all about shattering stereotypes about cats and the diverse people who love them.”
At its location, Popoki and Tea will house rescue cats in its “cat lounge” until they are adopted out. The lounge will be separately ventilated from the cafe area, and double doors will prevent cats from escaping. Paid reservations and walk-ins will be welcome as space in the lounge allows, and guests may bring in their cafe purchases. The separation and self-service allows the presence of animals, while complying with Hawai‘i State Department of Health rules.
Popoki and Tea will sell boba milk teas and iced teas, along with outsourced coffee and pastries. The cat cafe plans to continue its collaboration with KAT Charities, a nonprofit animal rescue group based in Pearl City, as its source for cats.
Animal cafes have been a mainstay in Asia for about 20 years. Japan has about 150 cat cafes, while the U.S. now has more than 70. With an estimated 300,000 free-roaming cats on O‘ahu, Popoki and Tea aims to make a positive difference in the lives of O‘ahu’s felines and humans.