Ask and you shall receive! Two New Yorkers, Maggie Chan and Mandy Chow, are seeking to correct New York City’s lack of coffee shops complete with waggy tails and wet noses. The pair is currently in the midst of trying to raise $70,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
This Dog’s Life sat down with one half of the duo over the weekend to ask her about their plans.
TDL: First things first: I’d love to learn a little bit more about both of you! How long have you known each other, and how long has the Dog Cafe been a dream of yours?
Maggie: Mandy and I have known each other for about seven years. We met during our freshmen year of college in an anthropology class. We’ve always been extreme dog lovers (the type that would turn our heads 180-degrees just to stare at a dog walk by) but never thought of the dog cafe until visiting Korea.
TDL: Can you tell us a little bit more about the dog cafes you’ve seen in Korea? How are they different from your plans?
Maggie: The dog cafes in Korea had a nice open space where people and dogs were able to be fed in the same area. Customers would buy treats, drinks and food, and then they can sit and enjoy their food while a dog follows him or her and begs for a treat.
TDL: Definitely an authentic dog-having experience, with the begging! But I’m guessing that wouldn’t exactly be the same in New York City?
Maggie: It wouldn’t be possible in New York City, because the Department of Health and Inspection does not allow dogs to be in the same area where food will be served.
TDL: So how would your café accommodate the DOH regulations?
Maggie: The dogs and both the dining and food preparation areas will be separated. The dogs will be in a playground, which will be concealed in a glass room. If you look at the floor plan, you can see that you must exit the dining area before you can enter the playground.
TDL: The plan looks great. Another thing we were wondering: Mandy and you decided to go with Indiegogo as the platform for your crowdfunding. Any particular reason you went that route, rather than Kickstarter or GoFundMe?
Maggie: One of the main reasons why we chose Indiegogo is because it has one of the highest traffic [platforms] and hoped this would work to our advantage.
Although the dog cafe will need a lot (A LOT) more than 70K, we wanted to settle at a safer goal. The required size of the cafe to ensure that the dogs will have ample space to run around is very big, so rent alone will be really high. In addition to cost of rent, there will be construction cost for a large space, equipment, etc. Our biggest challenge would be spreading the word of our crowdfunding page to a larger variety of audience and having more people donate to us.
TDL: Well I hope we’ll be able to help you out there. Now, for more fun questions. What are you most excited about regarding the dog café?
Maggie: I am extremely excited about opportunity to see so many dogs on a daily basis!
TDL: I think you’ve said before that one of your main motivations behind starting a dog café was realizing the difficulty of having a dog in the city. I’m sure there are a lot of people in the same boat, and this will definitely fill that space for them.
Maggie: Exactly! To substitute for my lack of a dog, I volunteered at a few animal shelters– one of those being Bideawee. Recently, I’m a volunteer of Animal Haven and New York Cares. New York Cares includes various volunteer projects, and there are many for dog walking. We know that many people live in small apartments which restrict them from getting a dog. Through our cafe, these people will be able to experience the joy of having and playing with dogs.
TDL: Are these the shelters that will also be working with the café? And what about adoption events — are those going to be hosted separately?
Maggie: As of now, we are still in talks with a number of animal shelters, so we have not decided on who we will be partnering with yet. To answer your question about adoption events, we would say everyday is an adoption event since the dogs will be up for adoption every day!
TDL: But the dogs wouldn’t be living at the café, right?
Maggie: Right. They would be brought in from the shelters each day.
TDL: And – and I’m totally thinking about myself here, because I will probably be spending a lot of time there – what about customers who have dogs? Are outside dogs welcome at the café, too?
Maggie: Yes! We welcome customers with dogs to come to our cafe. As long as their dogs are up-to-date with their shots, customers can drop them off in the playground before entering the dining area.
There you have it, dog lovers! If you’d like to support Maggie and Mandy in their noble endeavor, and help bring dog kisses to the dogless, click here.
Image from Flickr