Can a cat cafe save State Street?

Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfare, State Street, is experiencing an identity crisis. Twelve percent of the storefronts in the downtown core sit vacant (the highest it’s been since 1991), as both big name brands like Macy’s and small, locally owned businesses close up shop due to rising rent prices and the boom of online retailers like Amazon.

But, some business owners are trying new ways to revitalize the downtown core.

Catalina Esteves, 25, opened Cat Therapy this spring. The cat cafe is the only business of its kind between LA and Oakland and most days, her reservations are booked solid.

“Cat Therapy is a cat adoption center in a cool, coffee house costume,” said Esteves. “We hope to bring a new, fresh energy into this area, and that by providing a more comfortable environment for these cats, people will connect with them faster and they’ll get adopted faster.”

Take a look inside.