Bunny Cafes Hop Into The Animal Themed Restaurant Market

Food & Drink

Ok, I’ll bite (or, I suppose, nibble). The news that a bunny café is planned for Vancouver adds to the veritable menagerie of similar animal-themed concepts across Canada. The idea, which leaped out of a meeting between feline coffeehouse Catfé owner Michelle Furbacher, and Sorelle Saidman, who hosts bunny pop-ups for Rabbitats Rescue Society. “The animal cafe works really well as an adoption model,” she says. “We wanted to give it a try with the bunnies as well,” Furbacher told Daily Hive.

Rabbitats has run previous pop-up adoption events meant to familiarize potential adopters with a new furry friend. “We’ve actually just started to do the more ‘bunny-as-an-attraction’ events, where people can come and de-stress by ‘meet and treats,’” Saidman told Global News. “They can come and treat the bunnies and the bunnies love it and the people love it.”

Although there are many options to cuddle some cute furry creatures across Canada, the experiences and purposes behind them range quite widely. Some, such as the newly opened Catoro, stress the education aspect of informing customers about cat overpopulation, as well as other social justice elements such as zero-waste practices in foodservice. Most, like Catfé, partner with local humane societies as satellite adoption centers for animals that need furrever homes. And there are some that function as social spaces for animal lovers, such as Munchies Coffeehouse and Barkery, which hosts dog birthday parties complete with pup-friendly baked goods (cat cafes outnumber dog spaces by a large margin, in part, perhaps, due to the self-contained nature of cats, including litter box habits). 

The trend of combining pets with hospitality is nothing new — luxury advances in bringing furry family members everywhere from airplanes to wine tastings have been popping up increasingly as brands scent the revenue potential in the moneyed pet owner market. Hotels in particular have leaped enthusiastically into this idea with resident cats, dogs, cows, giraffes and all nature of beasts of land and air drawing visitors from far and wide. The Peabody Hotel in Memphis has been widely renowned since 1930 for having its ducks in a row with a nightly parade through the lobby and up to their Royal Duck Palace — a $200,000 marble and glass mini hotel with its own fountain (alas, the Peabody Orlando became fowl-free following its acquisition by the Hyatt in 2013, leaving the Memphis mothership as the only duck march). According to the Peabody Memphis’ website, the ducks do a three month tour at the hotel before returning to a local farm to live free in the wild (for the suspicious minded, rest assured that there is no duck served on the dining room menu at the hotel).

Although this trend may prove troubling for the allergic or animal averse, your chances of seeing a resident pet or brand ambassador may only grow, as the stresses of travel and business have people seeking connection and comfort when on the road. Some road warriors may choose to bring their own pet (Kimpton Hotels has the policy of “if your pet fits through the door, we’ll welcome them in,” which must lead to some interesting negotiations with contractors when designing each new build), but for those travelers who can’t bring their own pets, these options may be a coveted amenity and a draw in an increasingly dog-eat-dog hospitality landscape.

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