cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

what is cafe au play? . february 8 . 2006

I'm working with Kristin Heying and the rest of the Cafe au Play board to plan a series of events we're calling "On the Road with Cafe au Play." And I bet some of you are asking, Sarah, what is Cafe au Play? You may even remember that I have talked here about something I call Play Cafe.

This is where I tell you all about that. Play Cafe is a business plan for a coffee shop/cafe catering to parents of young children, centered around a large play space, that I first wrote for my old boss, Larry, at JanRain. He told me to feel free to use it, if I so chose, and I thought long and hard about doing so. But a terrific shortage of family money and a general need to support my family with a consistent cash flow stopped me cold.

While I was being stopped cold, Kristin was just warming up. She developed Cafe au Play entirely independently, probably because we all need something like this so badly. Cafe au Play is, essentially, a non-profit Play Cafe that is more program based. For instance, whereas at Play Cafe I'd envisioned charging admission to the play area and hiring play facilitators; at Cafe au Play, classes, workshops and seminars would be more of a focus.

At their hearts, though, they're the same establishment: a coffee shop that serves healthy food, the kind of food that nearly every parent is o.k. having served to their child. A place where children are not just permitted but catered to. A place where parents and caregivers can go and meet others; a place where a mom can get a cup of coffee and read the newspaper while her child is otherwise, safely, engaged; a place where playgroups and parental support groups and craft circles can meet; a place where the play area is not just some thrift store toys in a bin under a table.

Cafe au Play is a non-profit, and we'll be raising money both from foundations and private individuals. If you're interested in helping, you can contact me. Over the coming months I'll periodically post ideas of things that we need and talking more about On the Road.

For now, you can read on for dates, times and locations.

1. People's Coop . 3029 SE 21st Ave . Sat, Feb. 25 . 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

2. Haven Coffee . 3551 SE Divison St . Fri, March 24 . 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

3. Stumptown Coffee Downtown . 128 SW 3rd Ave . Fri, April 28 . 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

4. Urban Grind . 2214 NE Oregon St . Sat, May 27 . 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

5. Ramekins / Creative Space . 1235 SE Division St . Sun, June 25 . 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

6. Space Monkey / Mt. Scott Park . 5511 SE 72nd Ave . Sat, July 22 . 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.