Opened in 2017, the Ronron Café, which allowed customers to drink coffee in the company of a dozen cats, will close. Its founder, Roxane Valette is forced to liquidate her company, for lack of profit.
It is a message, posted on Facebook, which made Internet users react. The 32-year-old manager explains in a few lines the end of her adventure: “It is with sadness that we inform you of the final closure of the Ronron Café after 5 years of existence.“In the comments, the fans of the establishment do not hide their sadness. Five years after its opening, the Ronron Café must therefore close its doors, despite an ever-growing clientele. But then what happened?
It all starts with Roxanne and her love of cats. “When I was little, traveling with my parents, I spent my time stroking the cats in the street, on the low sides. I liked to take my time with them” she confides. Very quickly, after odd jobs, she decides to launch her cat bar. “It was logical” for Roxanne. Business plan in hand, she begins the process. But not everything is so simple. “I had a hard time finding a place. In fact, the most difficult thing was to convince the trustees who feared nuisances with the small catering and also smells because of the cats.” An obstacle course that this young entrepreneur had managed to complete in a few months. The concept was born.
“We are far from the other establishments that exist in France. Cats are not decoration: there is a real process, adoption. The cats stay a maximum of a few months. The goal is for these felines to find a family.“The health protocol with an airlock at the entrance, hand washing and overshoes has been put in place. The café was serving its first customers.
Very quickly, the Ronron Café finds its clientele. “Everything was working perfectly, I was happy” details Roxanne. Indeed, the first years are a real success. The 600 reviews on Google bear witness to this. Passing customers become regulars, the cats quickly find new families and the young girl is proud of her small business. Roxanne also wanted to educate customers about the abandonment of animals “the awareness worked, in short I was happy and proud to have had this idea“.
A few years later, faced with the success of the establishment, Roxanne Valette decided to increase the opening hours of her establishment. “I wanted to go from being open 5 days a week to 6 days a week and 7 days a week. The days became more important for the employees.“So she decided to hire to relieve herself a bit and take at least one day off in the week.”I wanted there to be morning employees and afternoon employees.“But there you go, human resources management was complicated and Roxanne did not expect such a difficulty at all. “It is actually very hard. You entrust someone with responsibilities and very quickly, the person fails you; she doesn’t come back the next day.” Then follow the disappointments.
Impossible to find the right people to rely on to run the establishment. “People want less and less to work in the restaurant industry” she explains. It is then herself who will manage every day, with her mother in the kitchen, a precious help. “She always supported me“At the end of the line, Roxanne understands that she will no longer be able to take on the business on her own, without even paying herself a salary”No, nothing in 5 years of work” she says.
To understand, Roxanne Valette shows me her rent: €2,657 per month, which includes the rent paid to the landlord, common charges (of the building) and VAT. A rent which is added to the bank loan (approximately 1000 € to be repaid each month). “It gets complicated” she explains. “I will be able to get there without any problem, but I have to open more and without staff I can count on, it is impossible.“
In reality, Roxanne can’t take it anymore. She tells me that she put incredible energy into this adventure. 5 years of his life in the service of this establishment and the accumulation of all this daily life, accounting to manage, failing human resources, it is too much. “We are the only establishment in Reims where you can have brunch any day of the week. The cafes are a little more expensive of course (3.90€), but it allows you to take care of the cats and also you can enjoy the felines as much time as you want. And even my Viennese chocolate is cheaper than other establishments“. Roxanne has to admit that the business can’t run like this anymore.”My landlord expects his rent every month. No discount during the Covid and all legal increases are added as soon as possible. The city of Reims helped me a little and the government too”. Roxanne seems torn. Success is there but the situation can no longer continue. “I can’t take it anymore. I am tired. I have the feeling of not having been able to do“.
What will become of the cafe cats? Even if nothing is yet clearly defined, the hairballs will be recovered by the Ronron Association, created in June 2016. They will all find a foster family while awaiting final adoption. If you feel like it, you can adopt a little kitty via the Facebook page @ronroncafereims