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Graduate's purr-fect excuse for a cuppa

A Newcastle University graduate and entrepreneur has opened her own cat café in Newcastle.

Sarah Zong (BA Marketing & Management 2011) opened her own cat café, CatPawCino, last month after two years of hard work and careful planning.

The two storey conversion on Newcastle’s prestigious Quayside is home to Sarah's own six pedigree cats and visitors can expect a unique menu featuring a variety of dishes with creatively cat-themed names. Working with local suppliers, Sarah also serves a special afternoon tea and is importing speciality Chinese products to reflect her Chinese heritage.

Sarah worked with Rise Up, Newcastle University Careers Service's team of entrepreneurial development officers and business advisers who are on hand to provide support, advice and access to funding for graduates.

"My idea came from becoming aware of similar Cat Cafés in the Far East and I thought this might be something worth researching and experimenting with in the UK," said Sarah. "I'm a cat lover and want to share these beautiful animals with others who don't have the space or for some other reason can't own a cat."

When Sarah first approached Rise Up, there was only one cat café in the UK at that time. Since then, others have opened in Nottingham, Edinburgh and more recently Newcastle. Despite competition, Sarah continued with her plans.

Jackie Wade, Business Adviser, explains: "We've been working with and supporting Sarah for nearly two years. She applied for the Tier One Entrepreneur Visa Programme and worked with us to complete the programme successfully. Together, we helped develop her business plan, including mentoring and introducing her to relevant business contacts."

Sarah said: "After managing to find the perfect spot we're really excited to have just opened and to be getting such fabulous reviews and feedback from our customers."

The café must follow strict guidelines around health and safety to ensure the welfare and interest of the pets, including a "cat-nap" time when the café is closed for business to allow the cats some quiet time. As someone committed to animal welfare, Sarah also donates a percentage of the cafe's profits every month to Newcastle Dog and Cat shelter.

For further information about CatPawCino or to make a booking, please visit www.catpawcino.com.

You can also find out more about Rise Up here.

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published on: 22 October 2015