By Barrett Seaman–
The old adage that cats have nine lives may be an overstatement, but one feline, Irvington’s The Black Cat Café, now appears to have at least a second one.
Issued an eviction notice at the end of January by her out-of-state landlord, Emily Feliciano, proprietor of the 15-year-old fixture on Main Street, launched a GoFundMe campaign in February seeking $35,000 to pay back rent caused by the pandemic while she negotiated a settlement.
For weeks, there was little indication that the landlord was willing to compromise, and the GoFundMe campaign was bringing in a fraction of its goal. Beyond the back rent, the physical space of the popular café at 45 West Main Street is in need of substantial repair, including replacement of part of the flooring, installation of an air filtering system and a customer bathroom and updating plumbing and wiring. And yet, on March 13, Emily wrote, “What only a few weeks ago seemed impossible now seems manageable, and we hope to open our doors late March to early April.”
Then on March 28, Emily wrote, “We are now able to report that we have come to an agreement with our landowners.” Carl Finger, the attorney representing the landlord, Vingsan Limited Partnership of Boca Raton, Florida, confirmed, “The matter is resolved.”
Emily will not disclose the terms of the settlement, explaining that the landlord required her to sign a confidentiality agreement, but it is clear from her punch list of repairs that tens of thousands of dollars will be needed to prep the place, not to mention the settling of debts.
She was able to secure some government funding last year and got a new PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan to bring her staff back. In addition, her husband is lending her $20,000. While she promised that if the re-opening effort failed, she would pay back anyone who gave to the GoFundMe campaign ($4,855 as of March 29), she is now keeping the fund going as a way to defray costs until customers return and begin to fill the coffers. Given the timing of the settlement and the work still to be done, The Black Cat is not likely to stir until later in the spring.