Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nation's first parrot cafe to open in the Springs

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 12:44 PM

Next Saturday, April 30, at noon, The Perch will host its grand opening celebration at 1515 S. Eighth St., complete with High Grade Food Truck as well as a birds of prey meet-and-greet (including a bald eagle) courtesy Nature’s Educators.

The Perch will function as both a limited coffee and tea shop and bird adoption center and retail supply store, says founder Erik Wolf, citing other "pet cafes" around the world, like dog, cat, and even hedgehog cafes. But he and his wife Michele believe The Perch to be the U.S.'s first bird cafe, as they know of only one other in Japan. 

"We aren't technically a food-service establishment," he clarifies, "as we're only serving hot-brewed beverages and baked goods made elsewhere — we're making nothing here."  
click to enlarge Coffee amidst bird song, coming soon to Eighth Street. - COURTESY ERIK WOLF
  • Courtesy Erik Wolf
  • Coffee amidst bird song, coming soon to Eighth Street.
That means he reports to the agriculture department, not health department, for inspections, as any pet shop would do. 

But guests will be able to buy drip coffee from area roaster Spanish Peaks, plus sweets from the nearby Old School Bakery. And for no admission fee (unlike many other pet cafes), guests can socialize with the birds while enjoying their food and drink. To be clear, the birds are not flying free, but are caged near a seating area. Guests may request to handle them though, and staff will place the birds on play-stands for more intimate viewing. 

The Wolf's, relocated from Atlanta four years ago, co-launched the Metro Denver Parrot Rescue two years ago, and that nonprofit is actually who'll host the birds for The Perch and handle all matters related to adoption. The Perch will act as the for-profit arm to hopefully create a sustainable future for the all-volunteer rescue, as all monies that go to it go into supplies, feed and veterinary care — The Wolf's receive no salary. 

"We want people to feel free to come sit with the birds — it's a novelty for most folks who don't have parakeets or a parrot in their house," says Erik. "But the real mission is to find the birds homes. By serving food and drink, it makes it possible for someone to sit comfortably and spend a few hours with a bird if they're interested in adoption. They can take their time and not feel rushed. We want this to be more than a pet store. We want people to hang out, and for this to become a community center." 

Erik say since launching MDPR, they've placed upwards of 250 birds in homes. "People don't realize how many parrots are being given up to rescues," he says. "It's not as big as the dog and cat problem at shelters, but it's hundreds of birds annually." 

He expects The Perch to have around 20 adoptable birds on display at a given time, with another 30 in a quarantine area that newly surrendered birds must first pass through for necessary health monitoring. 

Adoptions will run as little as $10 for a parakeet up to $500 for a macaw (which sell new in pet shops for upwards of $2,500, he says). But even a couple bucks spent on a cup of coffee will support the rescue and The Perch's overall mission. 

We'll have a little more info in next week's Side Dish column. 


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