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Forget a Cat Cafe- Meet KITTchEN, Cumbria's Very Own Cat Bar

The “Kittchen” is a bar like no other.

Situated in Hawkshead, Ambleside, this independent craft-beer bar offers a full on "pussy and pints" service that enables you to enjoy both hand-picked local beers and some quality time with one of the 7 cats that call the KITTchEN their home.

We took a deep dive into this exciting must-visit destination for 2022 with an interview with the owners Emma and Luke, learn more about the KITTchEN below:

What was the idea behind founding KITTchEN?

It was creating a place we thought was missing, a place we wanted to hang out but no one else was doing it.

A passion project really, it's our favourite thing, awesome food, awesome beers and cats!

Just a really cool place to relax and chill out- It's hip and trendy and on-brand! (Laughter)

One of the other things was the events side, being in Hawkshead which is quite rural, it's such an awesome place and we love living here but there's not particularly a lot going on.

We wanted to bring out that cultural side by holding the events that we do and giving people something to go to without having to drive all the way to Kendal.

What kind of events do you guys do?

So we do film screenings, our upstairs is our venue space. Live music sometimes but that's kind of gone on pause over the last few years what with Covid, it's a bit tricky when you're paying for an artist and you can only put a few people in the room.

We do an open mic/poetry night called Speakeasy every month from April until October and we’ve got the Hawkshead Ghost Walk as well which is Luke as a storyteller guiding people round the village, relaying history and ghost stories, thats been incredibly popular this last few years, especially because its an outside event!

How Does Live Music Work With The Cats?

They don't mind it, we tend to stick to acoustic stuff so it's not too loud. We have had amps and PA systems but usually it's not big drums kits and that.

Either they’re not fussed or they're very interested in the equipment. So we had a fantastic blues musician called Scott who performed a while ago and as soon as that guitar case goes down and opens, that cat goes in it. You have to kick them out at the end of the night.

There was a little ginger one that was asleep on top of the amplifier and Daisy almost got stowed away in Scotts guitar case because she just wouldn't move.

So yeah they love it! They're just really curious, but we have a private cat room as well that's just for them with cat flaps so if they ever do want a break from people or the noise or anything they can go through there and be alone with beds and things for them there.

So there's a space designed all around them.

They watch the films as well! I don't know how much they're taking in but when something starts on the screen a lot of them go upstairs and will sit on the tables and watch.

So, what kind of person would love KITTchEN most?

Cat people and craft beer nerds. We’ve got a really good beer range at the moment, people who like something unique so where possible we get everything locally, a lot of our beers are local, local soft drinks, all our food we get from local suppliers where we can, so like Hawkshead relish who are literally just next door to us.

People who want to try something new and different and get a really good taste of local beers it's a great place to come. We’ve got a lot of good pubs around here but there's a lot of Robinsons where you get the same thing every time kind of thing so it's nice to go and try something different.

In terms of beer suppliers we’ve got Fell Brewery, Lakes Brew co. Tractor Shed in Workington, they're doing some really interesting stuff. We’ve got about 60 beers at the moment so you definitely can't try them in one night!

How many cats do you have at KITTchEN and what are their names?

We’ve got 7. So we’ve got Kiki, Misty, Bill, Mimi, Bell, Jasmine and Disco Kev. We found Disco Kev in the rescue centre and we never asked why because we thought it was funnier not to know.

When did you start KITTchEN and where would you like it to go?

We opened in May 2018 so we’re almost 3 years old. Obviously we lost a little bit of time with Covid so some of our 5 year plans and what we were going to invest in has gone back a step.

One thing we did want to be working on in the last few years was a lot more events, have a lot more going on in the upstairs space.

But really a lot of it in terms of long-term I think we just want to keep doing what we're doing really. It's something we’re really passionate about and we don't do it to be millionaires because it's the lifestyle we enjoy.

Sometimes people say to us why did you start a business in Hawkshead, why not Kendal, Carlisle or somewhere bigger but that's not where we live, that's not where we want to live.

We’ve been in Hawkshead for about 8 years, absolutely love it here, wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

So it's just a nice balance really, we work a lot because we are a small independent and we are still relatively new but have that work/life balance of enjoying what we do and you know being your own boss is also really nice, not having to answer to anyone is also very good.

Are there any upcoming events you would like to tell our readers about?

We do a pub quiz every week, that's one of our busiest nights really, we always get a good crowd and you can win some beer. It's kind of half locals, half visitors as well so that's a good mix.

We’ve also got the open mic night and we’ve got 2 films lined up. We always wanted to do a Withnail and I annual screening but if there's a quote you have to shout out all the insults and stuff like that and there's props to go up on the screen and that kind of stuff so that's coming back.

We get people coming in fancy dress as well, so legs bound in polythene and radishes on belts and stuff like that.

Emma’s choice for the year is Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it's the anniversary this year. There's an episode where they all get possessed by a singing demon, so a musical episode and we're doing a sing along for it.

It's such an iconic show so we’ve got a really good response for that already and that's going to be in March to tie in with the anniversary.

We do something for Cumbria pride every year, that's going to be a special quiz night but we get a drag king to come host the quiz.

And ghost walks, so there's two different tours you can do throughout the year.

A big thank you to Emma and Luke at the Kittchen for speaking to us! If you want to check out what they have on offer, you can follow them on Instagram here.

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