Having opened in late August, H&J’s Cafe is an Aggie-owned and operated cat cafe located on Texas Avenue.
H&J’s Cafe, named after owner and agribusiness graduate student Hao Ju and his girlfriend, Joey Fu, was inspired by the cat cafes he’s familiar with in Asia. After seeing a lack of establishments of similar concept in Texas, Ju decided to open one in College Station. Now home to almost twenty cats, H&J’s is a growing business with plans to introduce more cats, drink options, merchandise and reward programs.
During a trip to San Antonio with his Fu, Ju said he and his girlfriend discovered a cat cafe that didn’t quite meet the standards of the cafes in Asia.
“I am a permanent resident from China, so we’re very familiar with the business model,” Ju said. “And to be honest, the quality of the one in San Antonio is not very good. So we just thought we could do better in College Station. I got back and did some research.”
Feeling prepared by his management classes taken at Texas A&M, Ju said he began the process of bringing H&J’s Teahouse to life shortly after he returned from the San Antonio trip. Ju said the cafe currently has 19 cats for customers to interact with, 18 of which are permanent residents and one that is adoptable.
“Back in Asia, all of the cats in the cafes are permanent residents,” Ju said. “They don’t really offer adoptable cats, but that has proved to be pretty popular here, and people keep asking if our cats are adoptable or not.”
After seeing how well the cats are treated at H&J’s, Ju said a local woman struggling with finances asked if the cafe would be willing to act as a temporary home for her cat, providing a chance for human bonding and potential adoption.
“Now, we are looking to partner with some animal shelters in Houston or Bryan to see if they would like to let us have some of their cats, but let them do all the paperwork and stuff,” Ju said. “We’re basically going to be a foster home.”
Due to his status as a full-time student, Ju said he opened the cafe as soon as possible, which has been slowly growing since then.
“For now, we only serve bottled Asian drinks and Coke products,” Ju said, “But I have already purchased the equipment and reached a deal with a milk supplier, and [we] will be offering boba milk tea soon.”
So far, psychology sophomore Olivia Burnett said her experience working at H&J’s has been great, largely due to her understanding of her boss, and the cats she works with.
“I first started working there about two to three weeks before it opened,” Burnett said. “I found it on Jobs for Aggies and thought it seemed like a pretty good deal.”
Burnett said there’s always something funny going on because there’s so many cats.
“A lot of them are retired breeders or show cats, and some of them are rescues like Amber,” Burnett said. “She’s the orange Calico mix. She came with Walnut. She survived a dog attack, and whoever they got Walnut from asked if we would take her.”
In regard to her favorite cats, Burnett said she could only narrow it down to three.
“I really like Sapphire because he’s very gentle, very responsive,” Burnett said. ”You click your tongue, and his ears perk up. I also like Mystique, as she has a really high-pitched meow. If you touch her or wake her up, she meows like that every single time. And then Ginger, he's the newest one. He's a British shorthair. He really loves attention and also has a high-pitched meow, and he just loves being pet.”
Excited about H&J’s growing cat population, information technologies junior Rebekah Chovanec said going to the cafe has become one of her favorite things to do in town.
“Going there and spending time around cats is really stress-relieving, and you kind of forget about college life when you're there enjoying the presence of cats, especially because I can't have mine in my apartment,” Chovanec said. “As someone missing their pets at home, going there makes me feel a little better.”