Boris & Horton to close Williamsburg dog café, owners receive death threats over crowdfunding campaign

Boris & Horton dog cafe
Boris & Horton will close its Williamsburg location on May 30.
File photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The owners of the dog café Boris & Horton announced last week that their Williamsburg location will close its doors for good at the end of the month, much to the ire of individuals who had contributed to a fundraising campaign aimed at salvaging the struggling business.

One of the owners stated they had received numerous death threats following the announcement of the Brooklyn location’s closure, which patrons believed had been rescued after a successful crowdfunding effort earlier this year.

The popular dog-friendly café had declared in February that both of its locations in Williamsburg and East Village would permanently shut down on Feb. 26. According to one of the owners, Logan Mikhly, they were focused on winding down operations and assisting their staff in securing new employment after a particularly challenging winter for sales prompted the decision to close permanently.

The cafe was initially set to close in February, but was kept afloat by a crowdfunding campaign.File photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The news of the closure prompted one customer to initiate an online fundraising campaign, Mikhly said, which fellow loyal patrons swiftly rallied behind. After the GoFundMe campaign raised $20,000, Boris & Horton announced they would reassess the situation in an attempt to keep both locations open, given the significant outpouring of support.

Subsequently, they launched their own crowdfunding campaign on their website, setting a target of $250,000. Their plan was to allocate all funds towards hiring a general manager to aid with operations, an events manager to enhance evening events, and to repair the air conditioning system at the East Village café.

In addition to voluntary donations, their crowdfunding strategy included the introduction of monthly merchandise boxes and treat bundles, as well as a membership program tailored for frequent café visitors.

“Creating and fulfilling these offerings has required a large portion of the funds, but represents a new revenue stream for the cafes,” said Mikhly. She noted that while the campaign garnered attention and support for both locations, the majority of donations originated from East Village supporters due to their longstanding presence there.

The fundraising goal was reached in one weekend, with owners thanking supporters for the funds that allowed them to move forward with hiring new staff and keeping current staff paid while the Manhattan location is closed for repairs.

However, two months later, the café announced in a statement posted to their Instagram page that the Williamsburg location could not be saved, saying that the decision to close after one year in business there was not “made lightly.”

“We tried partnering with other local businesses, hiring an events manager, adding more programming, and other ways to bring in foot traffic, but despite our best efforts, sales have just been too weak to support the store,” the post read.

The post’s comment section was quickly flooded with negative responses, accusing the owners of mishandling the funds or misleading Brooklynites.

Logan, who co-owns the business with her father, Coppy Holzman, said she has received multiple anti-semitic death threats since the post went live. She told Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday that there is nothing underhanded about how the last two months have played out, other than it being a “failing store and we shouldn’t have tried.”

One of the threats seen by this paper read, “I pray to God every day for the extermination of Jews. Every Jew shall be sent to Hell, God willing.”

crowd at dog cafe
The café’s owners said they have received threats since announcing the closure. File photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Logan said that since reopening, the East Village cafe has significantly outperformed Brooklyn, leaving her and her dad with “no choice” but to close the Brooklyn outpost and focus their efforts on their flagship location.

“My focus at the moment is trying to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for our East Village cafe and ensuring its continued success,” she said.

Logan added that anyone with questions or concerns can contact the café directly.

“Assuming the worst really isn’t fair,” she said, “particularly when it’s just really hard to have a small business in New York.”

The Williamsburg Boris & Horton’s last day of operation is slated for this Thursday, May 30.