The Edinburgh Gift Card, part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative, can be spent with over 250 businesses in the city, including the Chihuahua Café. Owner Tanya Salitura said:
“The Chihuahua Café has been open for 4.5 years now and is an interactive animal experience. In Japan, there are lots of different pet cafés, and they’re especially popular because pet ownership isn’t as popular as in the UK. The cafés are places where people can get their pet fix without having to commit to owning a pet themselves. Europe started to get cat cafés around 5 years ago, and the Chihuahua Café works on a similar footing, it’s a café environment where people can come and enjoy the company of dogs.
“When it came to opening the Chihuahua Café, I thought carefully about the right breed of dog for the café. Some breeds can have strong guarding instincts, and Chihuahuas can have that too but they’re also one of the laziest breeds and can sleep for 16-18 hours per day. They’re a companion breed and enjoy the company of people and human interaction.
“It’s as much about creating an environment that works for the animals as much as the humans, and understanding the psychology of our dogs, who are our fluffy workers. Our focus is creating a safe, calm environment, and we invite guests to sit in the café and let the dogs come to them. Only our staff are allowed to move the dogs, which helps our animals to stay in control of how they engage with our customers.
“The Chihuahua Café is a passion project. I have a retail management background and have experience in setting up stores and managing people, experience that I was able to put to good use when opening the Chihuahua Café. What has been key for me is putting the right people in place and giving them the autonomy to get on with their job.
“We’re part of the Edinburgh Gift Card because support for local is so important. It has been difficult for small businesses over recent years, and many businesses have completely shut down. Even now, overheads are so much higher and people choosing to support that tiny coffee shop or small store on a daily basis is what will keep that business open. As an animal experience, we’re certainly more in the special occasion and treat sector than a regular café, however, we’re fortunate in Edinburgh to have a strong tourism sector. I hope to see many customers in to the Chihuahua Café with their gift card to enjoy two of life’s greatest pleasures, cake and dogs!”