DALLAS — We first told you about the Dallas “catio” bar back in May 2021. Ten Bells Tavern has been open for a decade on 7th Street, and the colony of feral cats that lounge around the bar is not going anywhere.
The bar’s current home in the Bishop Arts area of Dallas is closing, and a future home awaits the cats. But don’t be too concerned, the new space is right across the alleyway these felines already frequent.
"We’re gonna have a location right across the alley so that they will be taken care of again,” co-owner Michael Hickey said. “And we've got some really nice regulars, some really nice customers that we've known for the past 10 years that have offered to foster them in the transition in case we need that.”
Co-owner Meri Dahlke has made it her mission to ensure the bar cats have been well fed and taken care of since they started showing up. They spend their days lounging around the bar, just out of arm’s reach (most of the time). Dahlke's going to have two of the cats live with her until the new spot opens up, according to a Facebook post.
"And so I figured since I've always loved animals, that I'd rather have them be a part of this place than try to not make them a part of it,” Dahlke told us back in May.
Dahlke registered the cats as a “colony” within the city of Dallas and had them fixed to help keep the population from growing. There are many special drinks dedicated to the cats’ vet bills like the Lucy’s Bramble, which is paying for her eye issues. While Ten Bells customers are sad too see the old place go, they’re excited for what’s next.
"The good thing is a new place is just gonna be right over there,” said one of Ten Bells Tavern’s regulars Tauvy Thomason. "So it's not going to be such a transition, and all the cats are going to know where to go. They're most definitely going to know where to go.”
The tavern’s current location is set to be demolished to make way for new apartments. Originally, Ten Bells thought they’d have until July to leave the current space, but things changed. Developer Alamo Manhattan sped up the timeline and the tavern will be closed by late April.
“There are several phases of development that's going on and this was just part of it. And so the timing kind of kicked in and we've got to move,” Hickey said. “The apartments around have very, very low occupancy,” bartender Ashleigh Steinwender said. "This place was here a long time before a lot of the gentrification and stuff happened in the neighborhood.
But Steinwender — who had her first date with her husband at Ten Bells Tavern — says despite having to move, everyone is excited for what’s to come.
“We think it's going to generate a lot of new people coming by that never got to experience the old one, and a lot of old people that maybe didn't get to come by before we closed that get to see the new location, which is awesome,” Steinwender said.
Ten Bells Tavern’s new location will hopefully be open by mid-May at 238 W. 8th Street in Dallas.