Thanks to Outpouring of Love, Boris & Horton, the City’s First Dog Café, Might Not Close Down

Coppy Holzman CEO and co-founder of Boris & Horton is considering keeping the café open after an incredible outpouring of support and donations following the announcement of its imminent closure. One donation for $10,000 arrived on Feb. 21, pushing a GoFundMe to over $20,000 but now the owners have called for a pause in new donations as they figure out what to do next.

| 22 Feb 2024 | 12:54

New York City isn’t ready to bid farewell to its beloved dog cafe, Boris & Horton just yet. When news broke about the closure of its locations in the East Village and Williamsburg on Feb 15. many heartbroken supporters thought their favorites spot for a cup of joe and a milk bone for their pooch was a goner.

They were not barking up the wrong tree because it was the beloved cafes owners Coppy Holzman and Logan Mikhly, who announced the Feb. 26 closure date via an Instagram post. But folks flooded in with an outpouring of love. They rushed to the café with their furry friends to make the last few memories on the spot. Now a GoFundMe page that the news inspired has raised close to $20,000 so far and counting.

Initially the owners said they were going to use any money raised from a GoFundMe drive to parcel out funds to their soon-to-be unemployed staffers. After the amount raised soared past $20,000 thanks to a $10,000 donation for a donor identified as Zac Sweers, the owners asked for a pause in donations, so they can figure out their next move.

“PAUSING these funds as we await an update from Coppy and Logan on potential next steps for the business!!,” wrote the Amanda Gerzog, who organized the drive. “The funds from this GoFundMe will still be going towards helping the staff, but they have an update on a potential different way to help coming shortly. STAY TUNED!” she wrote hopefully.

Valerie Cortes and her dog, Goose, are among the many loyal customers initially saddened by the possibility that the cafe might close forever. Despite their disappointment, they’ve actively reached out to the owners, expressing their desire to rally support and keep the business afloat.

“It’s been a really interesting community. Goose has a group of friends and they come here play. He had had a big birthday party here with all his friends. I made my friends through him with his friend’s parents,” Cortes said.

Cortez was not alone in her determination to save the business. Amid the sadness over the cafe’s impending closure, there was a remarkable surge of inquiries on how to lend support to keep its doors open.

Gerzog, when she started the GoFundMe on behalf of the establishment had written: “Let’s rally around to show our support and do everything we can to keep this business afloat. If it’s not possible to keep the doors open, then let’s at least show our love to the amazing staff who will all be affected by this closure.”

Following a conversation between the owners and Gerzog, the owners decided to redirect the funds toward the dedicated staff members who would be impacted by the closure.

The GoFundMe, with an original target set at $100,000, had raised approximately $20,076 in contributions as of Feb. 22, including a $10,000 donation from a donor identified as Zac Sweer and a $5,000 donation from an anonymous benefactor.

In a conversation with Straus News, CEO and co-founder Coppy Holzman conveyed that the overwhelming love from the community has motivated Holzman to consider keeping the business open.

“We are going to make an announcement on Instagram in the next couple of days about what we need to stay open,” he said. “The love and support that we always felt towards our community, they’re showing that same love and support back. So hopefully we can let our community get involved. So we’re going to announce what we need in terms of participation.”

Boris & Horton, named after their dogs, was co-founded by Holzman and Mikhly and first opened on Avenue A in 2018. Later, in the summer of 2023, the café found another home in Williamsburg on Driggs Ave.

Both spaces have become a temple for dog parents and lovers alike with dog-friendly events including trivia nights, drag bingo, comedy shows, weekend meetups, exercise classes, and much more. In fact, for Valentine’s Day, they posted a reel on their Instagram to show how the cafes have also become a popular meet-cute and a date spot to spark romantic connections for the dog lovers of the city.

”A lot of people come without dogs too. Both ends make the community. I heard someone say today that it’s the reason why they love coming here because people without dogs they’ll pet their dog,” shared Annabeth Mann, a dog-side staff on her last shift at the cafe where she has worked for nearly two years.

Many people expressed shock while hearing about the financial struggles the cafe is going through because they have always seen the place thriving with customers. Despite that, numerous factors have added to their financial strain, making it increasingly difficult to keep the business running smoothly.

“Having a café or any hospitality business is difficult and we have extra expenses. So we made the decision (to close) just based on expenses. We get lots of people who come in and sit all day for one cup of coffee and we do love them, it’s just not generating a little bit of revenue,” Holzman said.

Mann also noted that despite introducing a new menu in May 2023, it didn’t translate into increased sales. “I don’t think people really come here to eat though. They come here more for the dogs and snacks. We’ve always had grilled cheeses. People like grilled cheeses and dogs apparently,” Mann said.

The café side of Boris & Horton is separated from the dog area. “We’re separate employees, at the dog side. You can’t go to the cafe side and touch any human food,” Mann said. That’s why all the human food is made completely separate. Everyone who orders has to go pick up their food themselves and then bring it back over here.” These strict rules helped them to become the first Department of Health-approved dog café in New York and ensure a spacious and safe environment where both dogs and humans could enjoy themselves indoors. Maintaining these standards comes with a hefty price tag, especially in New York.

Many people opened their wallets to keep the business afloat as soon as they heard about its closing. The cafés also sell branded merchandise, featuring T-shirts, mugs, caps, tote bags, and more. Once the news of its demise spread, all the items began flying the shelves with most items selling out within days of the closure announcement. “Someone even tried to buy our tip jar!” Mann said while laughing.

“Having a cafe or any hospitality business is difficult and we have extra expenses. So we made the decision (to close) just based on expenses. We get lots of people who come in and sit all day for one cup of coffee and we do love them, it’s just not generating a little bit of revenue.” Coppy Holzman, co-founder of Boris & Horton