Cat and sushi lovers are excited in Bellevue, Wisconsin. There, near the Green Bay of Lake Michigan, a cat sanctuary has teamed up with a sushi bar and café. The result: Meowsabi, a place where diners can enjoy a tasty meal with a view of cats playing through glass walls.
Or, as co-owner Leah Enking aptly puts it, “It’s kind of going to be like dinner and a show.”
Meowsabi: a Cat Sushi Bar
After Phin Sushi has been closed for two years, owners teamed up with Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary to start what may be the nation’s first-ever cat sushi bar. In 2019, Phin Sushi closed due to an “extensive fire,” according to Facebook. Fortunately, the restaurant was empty, and nobody was injured. Now, the sushi bar will soon rise from the ashes anew like a triumphant feline phoenix.
Notably, the café, bakery, sushi bar, and cat sanctuary are all separate. So, even those who are allergic to cats can dine without concern.
“All the businesses are completely separate. The walls though will be either glass walls or windows, so whether you’re in the bakery and café or sushi bar, you can see all the cats and what’s going on in the cat sanctuary,” co-owner Elizabeth Feldhausen told WBAY.
According to ambitious plans, the cat sanctuary will be in the middle, with the bakery/café and sushi bar on either side. In the same building, there will be pet-friendly apartments and a salon, reports WFRV.
As you might expect, the new building required a zoning amendment, and thankfully, recently received approval.
Cat Lovers Who Love Sushi and Vice Versa
The idea for Meowsabi sprang from a mutual love for cats and sushi to create a win-win business plan.
“The owners of Phin Sushi would run the extra fish scraps to use it as treats to feed our cats, especially the ones with behavior issues,” said Feldhausen, who founded Safe Haven. “They are all absolutely huge about cats, and we are all huge sushi lovers.”
Now, the trip from sushi bar to cat will be much shorter but with partitions, sort of like a big bento box.
“All separate HVAC systems and stuff like that so we’re just following health codes and just making sure that even if you don’t like cats, you can come and enjoy sushi,” said Feldhausen.
“Can’t wait to bring back the kitty wasabi!”
Mutual Benefits for Cats and People
Surely, the cats will benefit from having some tasty sushi from Meowsabi. Even better, chances are more cats will find forever homes as customers interact with the kitties.
“I think we will have a lot bigger reach for fosters,” said Feldhausen.
“They’re able to go into the cat sanctuary to adopt the cats or get to know the cats,” she tells WFRV.
Plus, proceeds from sales will help fund efforts for the sanctuary. If all goes according to plan, the new building will open in the Spring of 2022.
The Growing Popularity of Cat Cafés
A cat sushi bar sounds like a great idea. As we’ve seen many times, cat cafés are becoming more and more popular worldwide. They allow cats from shelters to become comfortable with socializing and greatly improve the odds of finding their perfect family.
Often, cat cafés are a great way to help cats that don’t do so well in a shelter environment. Not to mention, the people get a yummy meal and important stress relief from interacting or observing the cats.
See more about Meowsabi from WFRV Local 5: