York couple open Cat in the Wall, the city’s new coffee bar


“We are living our dream!” That’s the clear message from young couple Sam Waseem and Philip Smith who opened York’s brand new cafe and bar.

Sam, 31, and Philip, 27, have spent the past few months gutting and renovating the former lounge on their own and transforming the building into a stylish cafe bar.

Cat in the Wall at the old Moda Barbershops in Stonebow

The couple, who met when they both worked in events and management at the National Railway Museum in York, also want the venue to be a performance space for poets, artists and musicians.

Sam said: “We wanted to bring something different to York – we wanted to create a place where we ourselves would like to go!”

Watch Sam tell us about their new coffee bar:

Congratulations to Sam and Philip – this week’s Traders of the Week.

Each week, we shine the spotlight on the independent businesses that really make York special.

If you want to nominate a York trader – or if you run a local business and want to tell us what makes you special – you can tell us more via this online form: www.yorkpress.co.uk/trader/

The couple began planning Cat in the Wall during the first lockdown when Philip was made redundant and Sam was furloughed.

York Press: Philip Smith - co-owner of Cat in the WallPhilip Smith – co-owner of Cat in the Wall

Sam said: “I wanted to be self-employed for ten years and have a passion for what I do.”

Cat in the Wall is open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight.

The food and drink menus feature many products from Yorkshire or sourced from local suppliers.

It sells a range of hot drinks with coffee and tea from Taylor’s of Harrogate. Wine, beer and spirits on its cocktail menu are provided by Tate-Smith of Malton.

The food menu offers toast, teacakes and brioche for breakfast, wraps and sandwiches for lunch with quiche and pies from the York Pie Company. Snacks and cheese and charcuterie sharing boards are also available, as well as sweet treats.

York Press: Food on the menu at Cat in the WallFood on the menu at Cat in the Wall

The couple also want to make Cat in the Wall a performance space, with events almost every night.

Sam said: “We’ll have poetry, live readings, open mic, music – we’re excited to see all the different things we can do.”

Philip added: “I hope every time people come in they see something different.”

Impressively, to keep costs down, the couple fitted out the interior themselves.

York Press: Inside the Cat in the WallInterior of the cat in the wall

Sam said: “We had to tear everything out of the living room – it took three months. We then painted everything and made the MDF bar ourselves. I sawed and Philip took the measurements.”

They faced challenges.

“Nothing was at right angles and all floors were curved. It was very informative – and very fun! laughs Sam.

And they said it was great to be part of York’s thriving independent business scene.

Sam said: “Everyone has been very supportive and welcoming.”

Be our next Trader of the Week

Know a local merchant who deserves a shout out? If you want to name a York trader – or if you run a local business and want to tell us your story – you can tell us more via this online form: www.yorkpress.co.uk/trader/


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