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Kids Play area in Cafes- what do you expect

(30 Posts)
sassie23 Wed 26-Aug-09 07:51:45

Hello Ladies
I run a small coffee shop and bakery with my husband and we already have a small kiddies area as we know they are invaluable to busy mums and dads who want to have their cappuccino in peace for 5 mins.
Most customers seem very pleased with our efforts but I would like to improve our facilities and wondered if you could give me your ideas on what you would like to see in a kids play area. Space is limited so here's an idea of what we already have. A child size table and chair set, bricks, books for all ages, colouring in books, crayons and babies toys. I'm hoping to start a promotional offer for local mums to bring their pre schoolers in for coffee, scones etc on a thursday mornings so I would like to make sure we are all set for the little ones!!
thanks for your suggestions

katedan Wed 26-Aug-09 09:11:27

Wow a cafe owner is actually wants to attract mums with young children. Well done, I really hope it goes well for you and your business. Maybe you could have some small activity tables, my bank!! has one and my kids love it. Also maybe you could have cbeebies on in the corner (that would keep the kids quiet and let the mums have a nice coffee in your cafe)

All the best to you,

Gateau Wed 26-Aug-09 09:14:34

Sounds fab; I wish there were more places like this in our area; I'm always saying that. Make sure you advertise it well.
What about some sort of garage? My DS plays for ages with these when he sees them. Or, if you're stuck for space,or don;t want to invest the money car mats are excellent, really fire up the imagination - and they fold up! Get loads of cars too. Buy in bulk and you can get them really cheap. Little boys and girls seem to love them.
Good luck!

NorbertDentressangle Wed 26-Aug-09 09:20:04

We go to a lovely afe in Cornwall that has a childrens corner.

The most popular bit is a small wooden play kitchen with a sink, cooker top and oven. This, together with some plastic cups, plates, pots and pans, keeps the children amused for ages playing at running their own cafe

NorbertDentressangle Wed 26-Aug-09 09:20:36

cafe not afe!

Gateau Wed 26-Aug-09 09:24:41

I second the kitchen idea. Always popular at the playgroup we go to.

MmeLindt Wed 26-Aug-09 09:25:49

My cousin runs a child friendly cafe, it is lovely. They have a small wendy house that is very popular with the children.

I would not put a TV in, if the toys are interesting then they will not need a TV.

My cousin also does a children's snack plate: couple of sandwiches, raisins, cucumber and carrots and a few crisps with a drink. She also offers soup and sandwich for children. My DC love it there.

MrsBadger Wed 26-Aug-09 09:25:59

I think non-consumables (ie things that don;t run out or need replacing) would be the most practical - so not crayons and colouring books IMO.

bead mazes always popular and look pretty too. Car mat good idea - you can buy road-layout carpet that you could use as the permanent flooring for the area f you liked

play kitchen to play at cafes in is a great idea

definitely not a TV please

Dogshitsonthedailymail Wed 26-Aug-09 09:26:21

Message withdrawn

MmeLindt Wed 26-Aug-09 09:26:51

My DC are out in the hall at the moment, playing with a blackboard. Maybe that would be an option, it does not take up much space. Perhaps a wall mounted one, or blackboard paint?

MissisBoot Wed 26-Aug-09 09:28:39

I'd place the play area as far away from the entrance as possible and make sure that it can be seen from all the tables then parents won't feel so anxious about their children playing there.

Lovely that you are aiming your service towards families.

saintmaybe Wed 26-Aug-09 10:04:35

kitchen and wooden trains, brio type.

gorionine Wed 26-Aug-09 10:37:04

Sassie, what a great idea. I would suggest to have rather chunky toys that do not have too many elements that rend the toy useless when lost. I cannot praise you enough for thinking about mothers/families. Please please tell me you are in the North West!!!

I am just going to tell you a little experience we had this summer.

We were crossing France with 4 DCs. We stopped one morning in a supermarket restaurant(Flunch)to have breakfast with our 4 DCs. There was a little play area (Wacky warehouse type but tiny IYSWIM)When we got there the play area was opened, and DH and I were delighted to have for once breakfast in peace, that is until one of the cleaning ladies came asked them out so she could sweep the floor (routine cleaning I add, nothing due to my DCs)when she finished she just piled some high chairs in front of the play area's entrance so DCs could not go back in it! A few minutes later, DD4(2 3/4) saw a nice pyramid of ballons, she went to have a look, touched and 2 of the bottom ballons fell. Same lady comes back, tells DD off and sends her away muttering that she has better things to do with her day than picking up ballons!

Now I do agree with her that it might be a pain at time but surely what is the point of a play area if children cannot use it?

My only advice would be not to pull faces or sigh heavily if things get a bit messy because it certainly will! I am sure you will most certainly be rewarded by customers who love you and more to the point will come back!

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Wed 26-Aug-09 10:41:48

Not so sure about the cars, I have visions of people treading on lying-around cars and going flying! And generally anything with lots of bits (crayons, bricks etc) could be a pain to keep in one place and not have to keep replacing. How about some of those wall-mounted things like they have at soft-plays sometimes (with blocks to spin or mazes etc)? But your other ideas sound good.

NorbertDentressangle Wed 26-Aug-09 11:58:03

dogshitsonthedailymail -the one I'm talking about is Miss Peabody's near Falmouth -is that yours too?

midnightexpress Wed 26-Aug-09 12:13:24

I think a massive blackboard on the wall is a good idea, also colouring-in stuff - I was at a National Trust cafe recently that had a play area and there were two children in it who spent AGES colouring (wish my two would...). Also perhaps a jungle gym type thing (you can get nice wooden ones, which might be a bit more hygienic than the fabric ones) for babies. The Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh have a nice play table with a brio-type train set on it. If I asked the DSs of course, they would say 'CARS!'.

They also do lovely children's food - mini versions of adult stuff - Shepherd's Pie etc.

God luck with it - not enough places like this around.

midnightexpress Wed 26-Aug-09 12:13:45

Good luck

paisleyleaf Wed 26-Aug-09 12:15:48

Tea set and till to play cafes?

sassie23 Wed 26-Aug-09 14:43:38

Thank you all so much for your help. We have started our collection with a bead maze which the kids love and was thinking about a car mat,just wish we had more space. The wooden cafe is a great idea anyone know where we could get one for not too much money- have to keep my costs down at this stage. We have 18month old DS so realise how important all these things are for parents now so many place don't bother with any entertainment for kids not enough a decent changing area-( I got my bro a, carpenter to build a really nice one). Sorry gorionine we are in northern ireland !!McLaughlin's Bakery feel free to call in if you ever holiday over herewink. Like the idea of the blackboard wall could just paint the kiddicorner walls to small child height and let them go wild? Maybe a little too messy hmm

Gateau Wed 26-Aug-09 14:55:26

Whereabouts in Northern Ireland? My family all live there (Belfast) and I'm going there tomorrow with DS for six days. Can't wait; love the place and want to move back.
And what is the coffee shop called?
Re the car mats, you can get smaller ones in Sainsbury's: there's a range of six and they all link together. They're not carpet like, just thinish, felt-like mats but they do the job. If I remeber they're £3 or £4 each. My DS currently has four of them - and they're all doing to N.I with us as they're just so handy grin

Gateau Wed 26-Aug-09 14:56:29

Ah, McLaughlins, I see now that you have mentioned the name. Are you in Belfast?

sassie23 Wed 26-Aug-09 15:02:51

No sorry we are Portstewart maybe you will be out and about on the north coast call in, best coffee and bakery in towngrin but then Im biased !!

Gateau Wed 26-Aug-09 15:13:44

Funny enough, I think my family are all there today. They were staying in Castlerock for a few days.
But when I'm next in, I'll give you a call.
All the best.

LittleRedBook Wed 26-Aug-09 18:29:08

I'm in London and there are a few places that do this, it is a complete godsend.

A selection of books can be quite good for children to look at whilst sitting at their own table, if they don't want to go in the play corner or if it's very busy.

Agree play kitchen is good idea - get plenty of accessories / play food in case of sharing issues! Crayons always seem to be a pain, no-one sits still long enough to colour in properly, they're usually all broken and you can only find 6 of the same colour.

My main issue (wouldn't go so far as to say complaint, because I would never complain about anyone doing such a lovely thing for their customers) is that the toys do get pretty filthy or grubby very quickly. It's not a massive issue but worth getting plasticky stuff for a play kitchen / cafe, so you can chuck in the dishwasher every now and then. No soft toys or again easily washable ones.

Good luck with it!

Mousey84 Wed 26-Aug-09 18:46:32

Ohhh, Im going to portrush on friday, might see if we can swing by

Theres a lovely cafe near me that has books and magazines (like national geographic for kids) for older kids. They also have a wooden kitchen which is v basic (looks like an old sideboard with doors that has had its legs cut down and painted to look like oven/hob/fridge/freezer. Theres a circle cut out and a basin dropped in for the sink.)

Oh, had an idea - any independent toy stores nearby? Could they "sponser" the play area (or at least give a discount), in return for a wee poster on wall and some leaflets by the till?

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