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4 Philly Crowdfunding Campaigns You Can Back Right Now

A cat cafe, something new from Brauhaus Schmitz's Jessica Nolen, and more local projects now seeking funds.

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Night Kitchen/Facebook

Getting a new restaurant off the ground is a pricy endeavor, and online crowdfunding efforts that draw on the support of the community seem by now to have cemented themselves as an important part of how restaurants get made. Sometimes it can get contentious, as it did when PYT's Tommy Up sought funds for the Yachtsman, and other times it invokes an outpouring of warm fuzzies, as CookNSolo's Rooster Soup showed. Some have even gotten more creative with it, like W/N W/N coffee bar, which devised its own community funding scheme and secured a Kiva Zip loan. More recently, the team behind the wildly popular Philly Style Bagel pop-ups raised more than $20,000 toward equipment to make a permanent Fishtown shop plausible, while South Philly Barbacoa sought a modest $500 for a grinder that will allow them to begin making their own fresh tortillas. Scott Schroeder and Pat O'Malley went the old-fashioned IRL route with a potluck and silent auction to raise funds for their upcoming Hungry Pigeon, but simultaneously ran a successful bid via GoFundMe for more funds toward getting their kitchen up and running.

So what's next? Here's a look at four local crowdfunding campaigns going on right now, including two cafes-to-be and a couple of existing businesses looking for some help to grow:


The Little Bird Cafe and Bakery

Jessica Nolen, the pastry chef at Brauhaus Schmitz and Whetstone Tavern, is on her way to opening a new bakery and cafe in the former Cookie Confidential space in Queen Village (517 S. Fifth St.). To that end, she's set a goal of $15,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, which notes that the money will go toward a new commercial mixer and coffee equipment and training. (She does have a backer for the rest of her startup costs). Once open, the shop will offer Counter Culture coffee, breakfast pastries, breads, and desserts, and a cafe menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Nolen will produce baked goods for both of the restaurants in the new space, which will also allow her to expand into more wholesale and catering. An October opening is targeted.

Image credit: Little Bird/GoFundMe


Kawaii Kitty Cafe

After raising more than $5,000 in its first day, the Indiegogo campaign for what will be Philly's first cat cafe has slowed to a saner pace — but it's already about halfway to its goal of $20,000 with several weeks to go. A location has not yet been announced, but owner Kristin Eissler is hoping to open up shop before the end of the year. The space will feature a cafe with drinks and light food, separated (for health code reasons) from an adjoining cat lounge where guests can hang out and bond with adoptable cats, in partnership with PAWS.

Image credit: Kawaii/Indiegogo


Night Kitchen Bakery

Amy Edelman and John Millard's Night Kitchen is already a longtime Chestnut Hill staple, but now the owners are turning to Kickstarter to seek funding for renovations. Five years ago, the bakery expanded to add a cafe; now, they're looking to rework the existing space to increase capacity and efficiency, with new equipment and some cosmetic upgrades. They'll need $50,000 to complete the project, which they're hoping can be completed in just a couple of days of downtime in early January.

Image credit: Night Kitchen/Facebook


Little Jimmie's Bake House

Jimmie Reed, owner of Little Jimmie's Bakery Cafe in Mt. Airy, opened a second shop earlier this year called Little Jimmie's Bake House with some help from community development corporation Mt. Airy USA. Now, he's hopeful Kickstarter can help him grow into his expansion efforts, with a campaign seeking $27,350 toward additional equipment (including a new bread oven) and employees, and to go toward a planned expansion that would allow for more seating. Reed also notes that he would like to begin offering baking classes at the shop, which specializes in homestyle Southern sweets.

Image credit: Screencap/Kickstarter