I can't believe I haven't updated this in a week. So much has happened. We had our soft opening on Sunday, January 29 and we invited about 40 people and about 100 showed up! It was great. Everyone had a great time.

Today was our official opening and it went very well. We were slow for a lot of the day and we tried to hold down the panic feeling, but then at around 3;30 lots of people showed up. Which brings us to the problem of our hours. Currently we are open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 4:30. I know we need to be open later, but we need to hire some people first. Or teach our kids how to get from daycare to the cafe on their own. :-) We will work it out. And we'll be open on the weekends as soon as we can be. Promise!

There has been so much great buzz about the cafe. Yesterday this article was published: http://www.thegridto.com/life/food-drink/playful-grounds/  I particularly love all the comments at the end. Oy.

Today we were also interviewed by Blog T.O.  Tomorrow is Toronto Life. Also, I think we're going to be made into a comic strip. More on that later. I can't believe all the people calling up wanted to interview us! Also, today I received anonymous flowers. Nice. Creepy but nice. They were signed 'From Your Ardent Admirer'.

Today the best thing happened that made me so happy to have this cafe. A mom came in with a 5 week old. She's a first time mom and talked about how long it took her to leave the house and how this is her first real outing. I told her all about the College Montrose Children's Place (my personal salvation) and then I carried her coffee over to a table at the back beside two other women with 3 week old babies. They're on round 2 so they're not so overwhelmed. The three of them talked for 2 hours. I was so happy to be able to facilitate that!

That's all I can type for now. My eyes are shutting of their own accord. Before and after pictures of the cafe really really soon.

So we are really close now. Most of our coffee related food stuff has been ordered. We have our licenses. The kitchen is almost finished. We still have a list as long as your arm of stuff we need to buy and we are still looking for more kids books, high chairs and booster seats. I never thought I would be this excited about a toilet seat that has a built in toddler seat. Ah, the things I think about. We have been doing a bunch of shopping (finally the fun part!).

Here we are totally overloading Davina's car.


Is it safe to drive with shelves actually touching the front windshield?

And pictured below is our first totally tuckered out customer. He came. He played. He passed out. Right on the carpet. For those who don't know this is Davina's son Avon. He's pretty adorable.

As far as our opening date goes I will say that we are TENTATIVELY open to the public on Monday, January 30. I will post again in a couple of days to confirm the opening date, describe the menu, list our hours and days of operation etc.....

So close I can taste it!
Once upon a time there was a girl named Tera. She spent her early adult life having a great deal of fun. She studied and trained. She worked hard and she played hard. She went to nightclubs, spent lots of money on taxis, stayed out all night and ate out all the time. You get the picture. She hooked up with a great guy named Duff (yes, like the beer on the Simpsons), and together they had lots more fun. They traveled to lots of interesting places and lived in Asia for awhile. Then they came home and Tera realized that she was not a spring chicken anymore and it was time for offspring. Enter Kai the complete and utter love of her life. She grew up thinking that all that fun that she had in her 20`s and, um, 30`s was really just for young people; that mothers are no longer interested in that kind of fun. But when she became a mother herself she realized that was, well... utter crap.

On the way to the drop in centre, a place for children and their parents, she found herself walking past cafés and looking longingly through the window at the people enjoying a latte, a sandwich, a glass of wine. She wondered if there were no place she could go that was a place for parents and their children? An adult place. A sophisticated place. The kind of place she went to before she crossed over from being a woman to being a mother. Then she realized that there is no place like that.

So she opened one. Playful Grounds is for us, the parents. It`s not kiddified. It`s a place to relax and enjoy your coffee, your meal, your drink. The difference is that it has everything you need to occupy your child while you enjoy yourself.

Here are a few of the things we`ve implemented so far to make your life easier:

  • Bathrooms on the main floor
  • little stools in each bathroom stall and a tall stool at each sink
  • change table in a large bathroom
  • lots of high chairs and booster seats
  • spare bibs for use (`cause I always forgot Kai`s)
  • sippy cups and bowls with suction
  • dairy and non-dairy kids drinks
  • small water cups for small hands
  • main menu and mini menu with healthy food (available to anyone regardless of age)
  • a play area with a kitchenette, train table, puzzles, toys and books for kids and parents
  • ample stroller parking inside and out
  • a rack of $1 items, the kind of things you run out of all the time such as diapers, baby mum-mums, bananas, etc...
  • the list goes on and on.....
The goal is to provide a relaxing ambiance where you can chill out, network with others, have a coffee or a glass of wine or whatever you need to just feel like a person again because this is not a kiddie cafe. We spend all of our time going to places for the kids. This is a place for us but one which accommodates the wee ones in every way.

We will be open before months end. Stay tuned for more!

First off I have to seriously thank all the people who have been helping us get the cafe up and running. We've had people helping paint, ripping up floors, providing supplies (everything from the smallest toy to a laptop!) and offering suggestions. And of course to our husbands who are helping out physically and dealing with us as we try to keep a hundred things in the forefront of our minds at any given time. I say the collective us because Davina and I share one brain now. Thanks everyone, I'm not sure where we would be without your help!

So many people are e-mailing asking what they can do to help, so I decided to give it some actual thought. Here's what we need:

1. Highchairs and booster seats. If you have them and don't want them, we'll take them. Either give us a call or an e-mail and we'll arrange to be at the cafe when you come by or we'll arrange pick-up.

2. Toys. Anything that can go in a dishwasher or be easily cleaned. Cleanliness is next to ---liness.  Or whatever.

3. Books. Kiddie books and parenting books. Books are the bomb.

Anything that is donated that we can't use we will take to a shelter or some organization that makes good use of kiddie stuff.

We also need a few large appliances. If anyone out there works in the restaurant industry and has a line on restaurant equipment - used and cheap - we'd love to hear about it!

Lastly, we need ideas. We have so much planned for the cafe itself, but more suggestions are great.

Is anyone interested in having perhaps a company work party at the cafe some evening when we are closed to the public? Does anyone work for or know an event planner? We need to pick up our cash flow now that we are close to opening and most of our money has gone out while none has come in. This harkens back to an entry a while back about losing one of our loans for a big chunk of money we were sort of counting on. I'm just putting it out there. You never know if you don't ask!  More updates soon!

Wow, you don't know what you're missing by not seeing us doing all this work!

Davina and I crumpled on the ground laughing hysterically, in tears, because we are trying to fit giant pieces of drywall into the back of her car and can't for the life of us figure out how they came out of there;  Backing up into freshly painted walls; Getting sprayed with boiling water as we try to sort out the espresso machine; Comparing what seems like an infinite number of paint chips which I swear to God are all just plain white; Realizing that a door and door frame has an impossible number of surfaces and that no matter how many you paint there will be some that you missed; perched precariously painting on a ladder and having giant blobs of paint fall in your eye; and sharing beer and pizza with great friends getting your very own cafe ready to open.  These are good times indeed.

We have been getting so much really great feedback and suggestions. We had over 700 hits on this site yesterday, probably due at least in part to Mike Layton linking to it on Twitter! I'm happy to report that most of what people are suggesting we were already planning.

The only thing that isn't really a possibility was a request for a ball pit. We just don't have that kind of space. I think you'll be happy to know that we are not charging for the play area. But that means that we aren't dedicating too much floor space to it either.

Our goal is to create an adult atmosphere where moms, dads and all caregivers feel comfortable and relaxed. So much of our lives are spent living in kiddie environments. It's like the adult environment has become unavailable to us because we have children. We walk down the street and look at the people enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee or a glass of wine and remember longingly when we used to do that. That's what we are offering. In short this is a space for us, not a space for the kids. But there will be enough to occupy the children so that you can actually enjoy your visit. Plus all of the things that you need when you're out with kids. All the little conveniences not offered by regular adult cafes are here.

In the meantime, keep those suggestions coming. And I promise to try to get some pictures up in a day or two!