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“We had a successful reopening,” Garrett Simpson says. “Ten of our 11 cats were put on hold for adoption.”
Co-owner of Purrington’s since 2019, Simpson is familiar with this difficulty—but maintains that it’s a good problem to have.
“Our sweet spot is 10 to 12 cats, and we have enough,” he tells WW.
The small Northeast Portland shop where one can pay an entry fee to sit and read a book in a room full of cats (hoping but not guaranteed the elusive cat-on-lap situation), has been closed since March 2020. But its adoption rates are legendary.
In its previous incarnation—between October 2019 and March 2020—Purrington’s facilitated 123 cat adoptions. And while the cafe immediately adopted out its first batch of furry lounge residents, the cat connection was able to provide more social animals for the cafe’s setup.
“We’ll pivot as best we can [if we run low on cats.]” Simpson says. “In the past, we’ve decreased the number of guests in the cat lounge in order to provide a good cat-to-guest ratio.”
Purrington’s sources its cats from an an adoption-guarantee shelter in Sherwood—Cat Adoption Team—with whom Simpson has a long history. After taking a hiatus from the food and wine world, Simpson began volunteering with CAT. He even ferried the felines to Purrington’s before the original owners moved—at which point he and his partner and co-owner Helen Harris bought the place turn-key.
The cafe reopened under Simpson and Harris’ ownership in late 2019, renovated to allow more peeping on the cat lounge from the exterior seating area. Making use of Simpson’s food background, Purrington’s unveiled a seasonal menu and a pretty stellar selection of beer and wine—think pFriem Pilsners and Weinbau Paetra wines. As it cautiously reopens, however, Purrington’s plans to keep its menu light, “to help minimize the amount of time that people have their masks down,” Simpson explains.
Other COVID precautions have trickled into the reservation system. For now, visits last for a set 45 minutes with firm start and end times. Visitors share the lounge with a set number of others for the duration, instead of the revolving flow the lounge used to employ. The structured times leave 15 minutes between visits for sanitation of the room.
Simpson says Purrington’s wanted to be patient with reopening because its business model “puts strangers in a confined, communal space together.” (The lounge is also rentable for private group visits of 10 or less.)
“Reopening at a time when COVID cases are rising is not ideal, but we feel that we have taken the necessary precautions to help ensure the safety of our guests and staff,” Simpson says.