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Java Cats Wins One for the Little Guy Following City Water Dispute

The cafe’s water was mistakenly shut off by the city who claimed the property was vacant

A mural of a cat at Java Cats Cafe
A mural of a cat at Java Cats Cafe
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

Grant Park’s Java Cats Cafe had their water shut off by the City of Atlanta over the weekend. It turns out the Department of Watershed Management had the property listed as vacant since 2014 and told owner Hadyn Hilton the now mistaken shut-off was due to the department being “a little behind”.

Java Cats announced its plans to open at 415 Memorial Drive SE in September 2016. The cafe opened in March 2017.

Hilton began documenting her water troubles with the city on the cafe’s Instagram after realizing last Thursday the building’s water had suddenly stopped flowing. Fearing a plumbing problem, Hilton closed the cafe early and called a plumber. That’s when the plumber told Hilton her water access was locked at the street.

Cafe regulars, cat lovers, social media followers, and even the cleaners next door all rallied behind Hilton and her cats while she navigated the city’s red tape.

Well guys, if you’ve followed my story from the beginning, you’d remember that it’s been a nightmare dealing with the city of Atlanta to get Java Cats opened. City Hall lost my plans multiple times and delayed us opening as well as costed us money. Now, the city, without notice, phone call, or letter, just came by yesterday and put a lock on our water. Plumbers have been out here all night yesterday and all day today, ripping up everything only to find out it was locked out on the street. Plumber called the city and they told us that “the building was listed as vacant since 2014” so they locked it. When I asked why it hasn’t been a issue before now, after using water for over a year, they said “they are a little behind”. I’m beyond furious that this could happen! Our landlords are also angry and confused- water is covered in my rent- no one was notified- no late bill- just shut off before a busy weekend! As a small business this is detrimental! I don’t know when I will have water back in my space because I have to open a account that can take up to 3 business days. I didn’t know this and neither did my landlords. We are fully booked tomorrow and Sunday so we will remain open and serve our guests the best we can. This is incredibly frustrating and I’m starting to question if even legal to do this. I was also told on that same phone call that they should have at least sent a notice. But they didn’t. Costing us business. Hoping for a great adoption weekend and I appreciate your understanding with our situation. I’m just baffled. Picking up gallons of water now so our kitties will have fresh water. I started my Java Cats Creatives group to help other women entrepreneurs avoid the things I’ve been through- but the sad thing is, in the city of Atlanta, it doesn’t stop. @wsbtv @fox5atlanta @atlwatershed @ajcnews @eateratlanta @foxnews @nbcnews @abcnews

A post shared by Java Cats Café (@javacatscafe) on

Between the pressure from concerned citizens, Hilton’s tenacity, and a little help from the media (CBS46), Java Cats Cafe’s water was restored at midnight on Saturday. Despite the loss of two days worth of revenue due to the closure, Hilton is thankful it wasn’t longer, “It’s been a crazy weekend. Because of the social media coverage, it was quickly resolved after I was told firmly that it wouldn’t be.”

City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management has since apologized for the paperwork problems which ultimately led to Java Cats Cafe’s troubles.

Java Cats Cafe is partnered with no-kill shelter PAWS Atlanta and regularly fosters up to 20 cats at its Grant Park location. All of the cats housed at the cafe are up for adoption.

In addition to cat cuddles and forever homes, Java Cats serves coffee from downtown’s Ebrik Coffee Room along with prepared foods. Hilton recently announced her plans to expand to Marietta. The Marietta cafe should open in May.

Ebrik Coffee Room

141 Mangum Street Southwest, , GA 30313 (404) 330-0119 Visit Website

Java Cats Cafe

415 Memorial Dr. SE, Suite C, Atlanta, GA 30312