Okay, we're going to check out a space on College west today! Wish us luck! We have a list of 'deal breakers' to bring with us. I'm not thinking that we'll take one of the first places we see but you never know. Could be perfect. College west. Sounds good.
The business cards will be delivered this week sometime and I have a few samples in my hands right now! Oh happy days!

We also have a meeting next Wednesday to go over our now completed business plan with the guy who will eventually submit it for real money! Then the money train starts and we can really get going on this.

We still need the perfect location. I'm starting to think that maybe we should go for Bloor, west of Ossington. There's a lot for lease there and not much on Dundas and College. Thoughts on that?
Today we will finish the first draft of our business plan. It's approximately 18 pages and it has taken a long time to research and write. We are proud mamas. We submit it to our guy at George Brown and hopefully he won't gently tell us to go back to the drawing board. Also, by sheer coincidence, we finalized our business cards today. So we will actually have something to hand people like real professionals.

On another note, still looking for the perfect location. If anyone knows of anything on College West or Dundas West, pass it on!
Well, not totally free. I still have to pay it back. It's a Jewish organization that offers interest free loans to Jews. Who woulda thunk it? They'll loan me $15,000.00 interest free! The only catch is that I need 3 guarantors who would each be responsible for $5,000.00 in the event that I crack under the pressure and skip the country. Pretty awesome huh?

So it looks like we're well on our way to borrowing enough money to either open a tremendously successful cafe or being in debt for the rest of our lives and living in a cardboard box! Yay!

More money updates soon.
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog. I was waiting to get the site up and now it’s up, so it’s time for an update.

For those just tuning in, this is the blog to keep up with the progress of the fantastically wonderful and very much needed café, Playful Grounds. It’s a café for us moms, dads and anyone who takes care of wee folk. They play, we eat and drink coffee. Sound good? It certainly does to me. No more dirty looks in restaurants No more half eaten meals. No more cold coffee. No more innovative ideas for how to change your kids diaper in public (you’ll have to exercise your imagination by deciding on a drink).

Where is this café you ask? Well, it will be somewhere in the west end of downtown. Probably on College or Dundas, sort of west of Ossington. We can’t actually lease a spot until we get our funding and we are now pretty close to convincing a bunch of really good institutions to loan money to a couple of chicks who have been off the financial grid for a couple of years. Oh ya, we’re that good.

If all goes well, we should be able to get the place open by October or so. Of course, we’ll have to figure out what to do with our own kids while we renovate and get set up. For myself, I could die of old age waiting for my number to come up with the subsidy people and the daycares at the same time, so that will be a challenge. But I’m nothing if not persistent. After we actually open our doors I think Kai could be the Maitre D. Thoughts? Top hat and tails? Make him earn his keep?

Okay, that’s probably enough for the first update in a while. I’ll be back here regularly telling you all of the nitty gritty. We’ll be beefing up the site regularly. Please contact us using the fancy ‘contact us’ page if you have anything to say. I’d love to hear from you and know there are actually people reading this. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally write for my own amusement, but I would really like some feedback or….. suggestions!

Business Plan
Yesterday we had a meeting with a company that writes professional business plans. Our initial thought was that maybe it was better to just pay a professional to do what would very likely take us a long, long time to learn how to do. The sales person recounted tales of woe describing young entrepreneurs who, at first, thought they could do it themselves, but who inevitably hung their heads in shame and hired a pro. He went on to stress that we were doomed if we didn’t have a good business plan and that they are the leaders in the field. Lastly, he talked about their relationships with the banks, their knowledge of various grants available and a veritable roster of individuals who are just dying to loan their money to new businesses. This last bit was dangled like the proverbial carrot. Pay us and we’ll let you in on our secrets. Don’t pay us and you’ll be doomed to, well, I guess, be doomed. Cost for these well guarded secrets? Three to five thousand dollars. Payable up front with no guarantee that anyone will actually loan us anything.Over coffee after the meeting, Davina pointed out that the reason we don’t have time to this ourselves is that we have kids to take care of and that three to five thousand dollars could buy A LOT of childcare, freeing us up to learn about and write our own business plan. In addition, Davina is eligible to take a course through the government which will teach her how to do a business plan. If we figure out how to manage her childcare, and she takes this 8 week course, than we could do it ourselves and save the cash. As for the ‘prettiness’ of the sample business plans we saw, my sister in law does this kind of thing for a living, so I think we can make it look at least as pretty as theirs. I suppose in the end, I’m really put off by people who come off like they hold privileged information that I can’t have. I think we can do better.
So having a great idea for a business is one thing, but figuring out the logistics to execute said idea is entirely another animal. There are a lot of things to figure out and I mean A LOT. For starters, do we want to be a play centre with a side of restaurant or do we want to be a restaurant with an attached play area? After some initial discussion, we decided that Playful Grounds is definitely a restaurant. The last thing we want is to be in competition with the Early Years Centre or any other parent drop-in facility. We want to be a place where hungry parents can come to eat yummy, nutritious food (with a spattering of good old comfort food, of course), while watching their child have fun. Why? Because it's better for us, the parents! Let's call a spade a spade, shall we? Parents want some comfort time too, and trying to take your little one out to a restaurant that is anything but a total kiddie environment is an exercise in 'Kill Me Now'. Not that changing your kid's diaper on the back of a toilet tank isn't fun, but, jeez.... okay you get my point.

So there it is. This restaurant is for us, the big folk. That said, we will have a play area with safe toys, books, both for them and for us (pleasure reading and baby related books), songs, and lots of other stuff we haven't worked out yet. We have some big plans for different directions the place could take and different services we could offer (please feel free to comment and suggest anything and everything).

I'll update you on where we are so far. We have involved the brother of a friend who knows the business very well from the point of view of numbers, money and general start up. Having him on board is pretty important 'cause neither Davina nor I have ever done anything like this. After a really good first meeting, which involved a lot of tea, we have an idea of how much all of this will cost. At this point I need to step away from the computer and scream in terror. Back in a mo.

Moving on from my panic attack, we have to decide whether to buy or lease. Clearly buying is the way to go, but since I have no immediate work history, no assets and appear generally untrustworthy on paper, getting approved for a mortgage may be difficult. Although, turns out, that if you buy a commercial building with living space up top, then it is potentially zoned residential which requires a significantly smaller percentage down and blah, blah, blah, so the possibility of buying remains.

We could also lease. Paying someone else's mortgage isn't exactly appealing, but hell, I've been doing it with my apartments my whole adult life. Try doing the math on that one sometime, for those of you who rent, and see how you feel.

The third option is finding an existing bar which has a full kitchen but is only open in the evenings. Maybe we could rent it out during the day. An interesting possibility. That would significantly lower our costs.

Where else are we? We need a business plan. No one is going to loan us money without one. To that end, we have an appointment next week with a business plan company to find out what they can offer us for the exorbitant amount of money they will most certainly charge us to create said business plan. But I have a feeling that going up that learning curve ourselves could take just this side of forever and sometimes, it’s just worth it to pay a professional.

Also, we did a tasting the other day. We invited about 8 friends over with their little ones and did a sort of a sample menu. We got a lot of great feedback from that and are thinking we should really do that again. We could try different foods, and let’s face it, dinner parties are fun!!

I think that’s it for now. A bit of stream of consciousness thing happening here. The future entries should be a bit more focused as these early entries are kinda getting the world (all 6 people following the blog), caught up to where we are so far.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011 Has this ever happened to you? You are trying to make brunch plans with a friend. Every place she suggests leaves you agonizing over the following; will there be space for your stroller? will you get anything but dirty looks from the other patrons? will there be a change table in the bathroom? will the establishment have high chairs? will there be anything on the menu that your child will eat that isn't deep fried? how off-put will your friend be if you just suggest coffee at your place like always? If any of this is familiar than you might very well appreciate what's coming next: a restaurant with a healthy menu available in both adult and kids sizes and where all of the conveniences a parent could desire are met. And that includes a play area.

Welcome to the blog for Playful Grounds. It's a cafe. Well, it's not a cafe yet, but IT WILL BE!

A friend and myself were talking about the need for a place where adults could sit and relax and have a decent, healthy meal while their children played nearby or ate comfortably. A place where there were no dirty looks. A place, in short, that doesn't really exist. So we've decided to stop just talking about it and open this place. Join us on our journey!

A little about us. Davina has two children, Avon and Jazmyn and a husband Donovan. She hails most recently from Vancouver, BC (where many of these types of restaurants exist, by the way). Tera has a son named Kai and a partner, Duff (yes, like the beer on the Simpsons).

We are just at the beginning of this adventure. Right now we need a business plan, a bunch of loans, a location (we're looking around Dundas and Dufferin and if anyone has any ideas, we'd appreciate them!) and a prayer.

Follow us and see how this all unfolds.