ZILLAH — Guests at the Calico Cat Cafe can’t bring their favorite felines to Washington’s first cat cafe east of the Cascades. But Biscuits, Gravy and the rest of the kitty bunch in residence will entertain you — or at least doze adorably while you dine.
“We have 11 kittens and one adult cat,” said Linda Fox, executive director of Community SEEDS (Support, Education, Empowerment, Disability Solutions), a nonprofit serving families with adult children who have disabilities.
The cafe, at 907 Vintage Valley Parkway, is a job training and employment program of Community SEEDS and the pilot project of the SEEDS Center social enterprise campus, the first of its kind in the state. It will also find forever homes for the rescue cats who occupy indoor and outdoor digs separated from the dining room by a glass wall.
The grand opening is still a few weeks away, on Aug. 24. It will feature breakfast all day, sandwiches, soups, salad bar, burgers and sweet treats, including the cafe’s Galaxy Lemonade.
There’s still a chance to visit beforehand, in a special sneak peek from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Saturday will feature sandwiches and a salad bar. The cafe will also serve breakfast Sunday.
It is the cafe’s second sneak peek.
“Last weekend, over the three days, we had around 100 people,” Fox said.
As expected, the kitties were a big hit. Biscuits, the adult female, came from the Yakima Humane Society and will live at the cafe, along with rescue kittens Gravy, Bugsy and Owen. For a donation, visitors can spend time with the kitties in their indoor lounge with its cat books and cat toys or shaded catio with more cat toys and climbing options.
“We won’t adopt any out until our grand opening,” Fox said.
There will be one more chance to check out the cafe before then. Community SEEDS is hosting a fundraising buffet-style prime rib dinner beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 at the door and are limited. Buy tickets at www.seedsyv.wix.com/calicocafe.
Donations are welcome. The nonprofit creates opportunities for inclusion of adults who have disabilities. As they become adults, people with disabilities sometimes struggle to remain active members of their community after graduation and childhood services end.
The full SEEDS Center planned on a 3-acre campus will create 100 jobs and will train clients in event, culinary, horticulture and pet services and provide social activities where adults with autism and other disabilities can remain part of community life, Fox said.
Of the cafe’s 13 employees — whittled down from about 100 applications — eight have disabilities, Fox said.
Ruben Barrera, the cafe’s executive chef, starts full-time Tuesday.
“He turned out to be just perfect. He has apprenticed about 15 people,” Fox said.
She and others will continue to tweak and adjust until the cafe’s grand opening. As expected with any new venture, glitches have occurred. The air conditioning went off at one point, as did the pop machine.
“We survived it, so that was a good test,” Fox said.