The Blue Cat Cafe’s opening on Saturday was greeted by a group of protesters who were rallying against landlords F&F Real Estate Ventures. The cafe’s building is adjacent to the site of the controversial demolition of piñata store Jumpolin, which is also owned by F&F. That lot is now being used for the cafe’s parking. F&F, run by Jordan French and Darius Fisher, attempted to host a SXSW party in March and create a food trailer court in February at the address, but failed on both accounts.
The protesters, who gathered at 11 a.m., shouted chants ("Pet your cat, sip your tea, on the ruins of Jumpolin," "Save East Austin"), while carrying signs, encouraging passing cars to honk for support, and talking to cafe patrons. The group wants to make people aware of what happened, said Chris Ledesma, one of the organizers. Bertha Delgado, community activist and president of East Town Lake Citizens Neighborhood Association, told Eater they asked the city for "healing time that we need for the community." They weren’t happy that Blue Cat Cafe still opened despite the community-called boycott. "We did not accept that, because it’s not a business that going to be servicing our people" in the neighborhood, she said. The cafe's animal welfare work doesn't mean it's "excused from accountability to a community that obviously is going through struggles," added Ledesma.
"We were not a party in that injunction," commented Blue Cat owner Rebecca Gray when asked about the protesters' cause, "and had nothing to do with the demolition. We are here for progress in Austin and the adoption of cats. We wish the best for Sergio and Monica [Lejarazu, owners of Jumpolin]."
Several feet away from the protesters, Kickstarter backers and adults and children who made reservations through Yelp were lining up for their first cat cafe experience. Inside, people played with the roaming felines with toys and colorful string. There will be resident cats, tagged with blue collars, and adoptable cats, with red collars or collarless. The cafe had its first adoption yesterday, a kitten named Frank. Outside, the vegan truck’s menu served coffee and punny dishes like Blue Ribbon Bris-Cat and Chi-Gato Dogs.