Mums, dads, grannies, childcare givers, would this business work?(16 Posts)
I am in the early stages of putting this business idea into action and I am looking to find out some honest opinions on my idea. I live close to a popular highstreet near to Bristol and am thinking of opening a play cafe. Basically a place where you can get a good coffee and a cake and your children can be entertained with dress up and imaginative play toys, maybe a sandpit in the courtyard for the summer. Was thinking maybe once a week could invite a freelance hair dresser who could come and cut children's hair. Another day maybe have someone in to do nails whilst the kids play. Would offer a service to order children's themed birthday cakes for collection.
If this was in your area is it something you would go to?
Are there any ideas that would go hand in hand with the cafe that I haven't thought of?
I would want the cafe to be high quality and well executed. Decorated nicely and attractively to attract children without being garish. with maybe a proper role play/imaginative play area Which would be changed and rotated periodically e.g a train station or cafe or shop.
I would love to have one of those old trains that drives itself around the top edge of the room.
What do you think?
Thanks in advance
Somebody tried it here. It closed within a year. Don't know why as it seemed quite popular, always kids in the courtyard playing.
How will you stop people treating it like free soft play or toddler group, buying two coffees and staying there three hours. You'll need turnover in the cafe to make money ...
That's true Micah hadn't thought of that problem, and sure that would happen. there is one near to Cheltenham and I think it seems to do well however it is a children's toy shop aswell as a play cafe.
Will have a think.
This place near me appears to be doing astonishingly well. It is a proper shop with cafe and classes attached though, rather than the other way around.
Amazing, thanks hearts. That's interesting that they do classes. Thank you for the link.
I would keep the toys clean and not ruined by congealed biscuit and cake etc.
I am also a Norland nanny so I think if I could also get that across that might be desirable to the customers to know? Not sure.
Thanks for all feedback
There is one in southville in bristol called the hungry caterpillar play cafe if you want to visit a local one. I haven't been. Yes deffo use the norland connection like crazy!
I think pricing model will be key, If 20 mums come in per morning, all have a cuppa and let their kids play for an hour, you aren't making any money. You'll have to get them buying food, paying for the play or buying additional services from you. Mums can tend to stay quite a long time and not spend much. So I think it's a lovely idea for parents but whether you can make money from it...not sure. That is your key issue I think
Coffee shops make money from fast turnover and high mark up, the problem with play cafés is turnover is not fast, people will sit there for ages not be out in 20 mins.
A place kind of like that opened up near us about 6 months ago and seems to be doing incredibly well. It is more soft play than cafe, but no climbing frames or anything like that, so you really can sit down with a coffee and switch off a bit without worrying that Little Jemima is stuck at the top of the slide with her foot in the netting.
It does classes/structured play or sing sessions, has local photographers in too.
Interesting idea - I like the play area idea and the people who would come in but (and I'm not an expert) would there be food hygiene issues if you have a hairdresser in a cafe?
There are lots around nappy valley South West London area which are a god send when it's raining!! There is usually a £3 charge to come in which is fair enough (can't expect to play with someone else's toys or free... it is a business!) Then mums relax while kids play in a new, social environment. Perfect!
Also at peak times you get a sticker which says what time you came in and can only stay for 2 hours from then.
Also close to a high street would be good as then on a Saturday mum could pop to the shop while dad takes them in their.
Set up by a local mum:
This one has a hairdressers in it:
Portico Play just off the Gloucester Road in Bristol has been open (successfully) for a number of years - perhaps worth a visit to see how they operate.
We've had similar things near us which largely have had to close. Things which have contributed are low turnover as Mums stay for a long time on one coffee (although one is looking promising as it's going to charge by the half hour and coffee is on top) and the sheer amount of cleaning. One which closed recently just got steadily stickier and grottier until people just stopped taking their kids. It was lovely to start with!
Also in SW London space is at such a premium that anywhere large enough for kids to play comfortably is often too expensive and gets turned into something else.
I think its a good idea. Although as others have said there is the danger of mums just buying one coffee and staying all afternoon because it would work out cheaper than a soft play place x
There's one near me its inside a garden centre. There's the cafe then off that is a small soft play with balls/ slide etc. You have to pay for an hours worth at a time which is Â£1.60 I think but its small and not enough chairs and tables but it is v popular.
I think you'd def have to have a charge by the hour even just a pound.
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