Keurig: The Loft is the second branch of the popular Fukuoka cat café Neko Café Keurig. Located in Imaizumi with views over Kego Shrine, the fourth-floor café is perfectly situated.
Very different from the cat cafés I have visited before, such as Tokyo’s Neko no Iru Kyuukeijo 299, The Loft is home to 31 felines--a large number, but that's not the venue's defining feature. The atmosphere and story are what make this place special. The café has a ‘loft’ vibe, channeling trendy New York infused with a little European style and finished off with Japanese creativity. There is a roof with rafter space designed to provide four-legged residents with an enormous jungle gym. The ceiling even has small alcoves that the cats can sit in and watch over the café.
The story behind the Keurig Company is very moving. Owner Kayuno Nomura was always fond of stray cats and regularly fed them. Her concern for the animals grew, and after visiting a cat café in Tokyo she decided to set up Keurig in Fukuoka. The Keurig shops, both the original and The Loft, take in strays and rehabilitate them, providing the cats with more than just safety--a life of luxury. The cats initially undergo a full medical check up, and they gradually recover from their state of abandonment. What’s more is that customers are able to adopt their favourite cats after visiting the café and undergoing a screening process. If you can’t help but fall for one of the abandoned mogs, you could eventually take one home.
The café itself has a more restaurant-like feel than I have previously experienced. The meal sets offered are very reasonable, and instead of charging per hour and for food separately, Keurig combines the two so that a meal set for one hour costs ¥1,380. The food served was magnificent, too. I went for a pasta dish and it was like a real taste of Italy. It came with homemade bread and a salad, and it was so good I would happily go there to eat even without the cats. Sweets and French toast are also on the menu, and if you don’t want to eat you can pay just for the time: 30 minutes for ¥380.
There are a few basic rules to be observed in the café: no flash photography, mandatory slippers, and no bothering any sleeping cats. The shop asks you to be mindful that these creatures where once abandoned, so whilst some may be very inquisitive others are still a little skittish.
I visited on a Monday afternoon and the place was very quiet. During my 90-minute stay I only saw about a half-dozen other customers, so it is great for an intimate experience. The Loft is open 11:30 am to 10 pm everyday except Thursday. The customers are quite devoted to the cats. One fellow diner I spoke to said he was too old to get a cat so he comes to the shop every week to treat his friends to some boiled chicken. The cats were lively; I think their stint as strays makes them far more interested in people and less lazy. As soon as I had put my bag in the free locker I was surrounded by them, one curling up next to me and one quickly starting to lick my hands and play with my headphones. This is a great experience if you want to meet some lively cats and have a unique dining experience.