It all started with a bacon-flavored macaron.
Several years ago, Emilie Legrand happened to try one made by Macaron Parlour in New York City and was hooked — it was unlike anything she had ever had.
Legrand, who is from France and pronounces “macaron” the right way, reached out to Christina Ha, owner of the bakery. She ended up interning for Ha and then working at Macaron Parlour.
The two bonded over their mutual affection for cats. They fantasized about what it would be like to open a cafe where customers could escape the stresses of urban life with a plate of macarons and a couple of kittens to cuddle.
“At some point, it wasn’t a joke anymore,” says Ha. “It kind of got solidified in our mind that we should do it.”
To get around local state regulations, the duo had to be creative. While cat cafes are legal in Paris and Asia, in New York City, it’s illegal to serve food and have cats in the same location.
Ha and Legrand came up with a solution to open two storefronts: a cafe, and, just around the corner, a cat-cuddling room. Customers could pick up their food from the cafe and then enjoy it while cozying up with kittens.
The pair connected the bakery and cat room in their branding and products. “We cat-ified where we could,” says Ha. The Meow Parlour Patisserie serves cat-shaped macaroons, for example.
So far, it’s looking like the two aren’t the only cat and cookie aficionados in New York. As of early January, the cafe — which opened in mid December — was nearly booked through the first week of March.
Watch this video (cute cats everywhere!) to hear about how Legrand and Ha met, came up with the niche business idea and brought it to life.