Cat Cafe On The Way

Markeshia Ricks PhotoConnecticut’s first cat cafe is a step closer to opening in Westville Village center now that the Board of Zoning Appeals granted its owners a special exception Tuesday night.

Mew Haven Cat Cafe owners Michael and Angela Pullo were given that green light after a short public hearing at 200 Orange St., where those in favor of the first-of-its-kind venture for the state and the city showed their support.

The couple gathered approximately 1,000 signatures in support of opening their hybrid coffee shop/cat shelter at 904 Whalley Ave. No one testified in opposition of the cafe.

The Pullos already have a separate takeout coffee shop. Now they will move forward with building out the storefront, which was for many years an optician’s office and formerly a campaign headquarters for Mayor Toni Harp, to add more space for the 12 cats that will call the space home until they are adopted. (Read more about the cat cafe here and here.)

“We’re really excited to help cats get adopted,” Angela Pullo told board members Tuesday. The cats will come from a shelter in North Haven called The Animal Haven, which will handle the adoptions. They’re expected to be on site when the expanded storefront opens sometime in August.

Thea Buxbaum, who represented 904 Whalley owner ArLow LLC, said people love cats and she can envision people relaxing with the cats before and after work. Though she’s allergic to cats, she’s willing to take allergy medications to hang out with the cats, she said.

She said the cat cafe “is one of those creative uses that you would want cities to have and cities to have bragging rights for because it’s just unique enough and quirky enough that it gets people attention.”

Steve Fontana, a city deputy director of economic development, said he’d had the chance to check out a cat cafe in Charleston, S.C. in January. He came away impressed.

“I think this is something that really is spreading across the country,” he said. “What I find really neat about this ... is they said they did a lot of research and when they looked at Connecticut there was only one place they thought this could work. And they decided on New Haven.

“We pride ourselves on doing things first and the best,” he added. “I think that this is a unique idea and I applaud them for embracing New Haven and the shelter in my hometown of North Haven.”

Mew Haven’s request for a special exception to operate was the first test of the new zoning regulations for the Westville Village District, which were created through a two-year project spearheaded by the Westville Renaissance Alliance (WVRA) in collaboration with the Yale Law School Community and Economic Development Clinic. The new zoning rules were designed to attract denser, less car-dependent development.

“The whole neighborhood is excited about this,” Lizzy Donius, of WVRA, said. “We can’t wait for the cats to come.”

Yale Heads To City Plan

The BZA also heard a request from Yale University Tuesday for a special exception for parking requirements for a retail space next door to the new L.L. Bean store on 272-310 Elm St. The board will decide in September whether to grant that request after it receives a recommendation from the City Plan Commission.

Yale needs a special exception because of a modification of the design of the new building in the Broadway shopping district that changed the use for approximately 690 gross square feet of additional space on the second floor. (Read more here.)

The university had previously been granted an exception that allowed it to have zero onsite parking where originally 101 spaces would have been required. Parking requirements have since been amended by the city and the new standard requires 50 spaces. The change of use would require an additional two parking spaces and the university needs relief to provide no additional parking spaces.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 25, 2018  7:38am

Get ready for the Hipster Cats.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on July 25, 2018  7:44am

Three Fifths just posted a link to hipster cats and finally I’m convinced gentrification is 100% a good thing, well done.

posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on July 25, 2018  8:48am

Third stanza, second line should read you’re undone instead of your…

posted by: 1644 on July 25, 2018  10:04am

My cat likes mice, which are organic, non-GMO food, so I guess she’s a hipster!

posted by: ADAK on July 25, 2018  10:15am

Just because someone isn’t up on trends, doesn’t mean the trend is hipster. It just means you’re out of touch.


posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 25, 2018  10:18am

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on July 25, 2018 8:44am

Three Fifths just posted a link to hipster cats and finally I’m convinced gentrification is 100% a good thing, well done.

Gentrification is not a 100%  good thing for these Cats.

Now Displaced by New York’s Gentrification: Feral Cats

Zane was the first to disappear, followed a few days later by Dali. Freckles was barely breathing when they found him. Buzzy, by the time they rushed him to the hospital, his stomach distended, had died. When the police found Mama and her son Blacky festering in a parking lot, it was already too late.

posted by: BevHills730 on July 25, 2018  10:21am

Isn’t LL Bean a major supporter of Trump?

posted by: LookOut on July 25, 2018  10:55am

A Cat Cafe…hmmm….I’m willing to try it as long as I don’t have to pick any fur out of my teeth.

posted by: robn on July 25, 2018  11:16am


posted by: wendy1 on July 25, 2018  11:37am

Excited about their success.  I signed their petition and am crazy about the cat lamps ( I ordered 4 more as gifts).  I will shop there and recommend it to other cat lovers.  I’d take a homeless cat but I own a cat-killer dog.

posted by: HewNaven on July 25, 2018  1:46pm

Could this story have landed on a better day?!

Parasite in cat poop could be reducing our fear of failure, study finds.
Toxoplasma, found in cat feces, makes mice unafraid of cats, and it could give people the courage to start their own businesses.

posted by: jim1 on July 25, 2018  2:49pm

Wendy 1
Susie is not a cat-killing dog, she just loves them but well done.