play cafe @ cafe mama

a community cafe and place to play for kids under five and their parents

my mantra: the parent is the customer

What is play cafe @ cafe mama? It is, at its heart, a place for parents to go, to be served, to find community. At its literal heart is play. Structurally, the cafe would be centered around a 2,000-square-foot (or so) single-level play area, with separate sections for infants; crawlers and new walkers; 1-2 year olds; and 3-5 year olds. Around the outside would be seating for mamas and daddies, complete with comfy chairs for nursing, tall tables for those who must stand-and-sip, and absolutely no condiments.

This cafe is different from other concepts who purport to be family-friendly in that the parent is the customer - not the adult, not the child, not the advertiser - the parent. We as parents know that we need someone to watch our child while we go to the bathroom - hello, facilitator, a young and energetic employee whose purpose is to watch children and mediate little disputes. We know that when children are melting down we need check, to-go box, and a hand out the door, pronto. Servers will be trained daily on reading the signs of a parent who is ready to go.

We parents need our food to be easy to eat one-handed. All food will be served, not for maximum presentation, but for maximum ease of eating. Wholesome, simple food, such as penne pasta with a simple tomato sauce, crostini with organic toppings, sandwiches cut into bite-sized pieces, grilled chicken bites, chopped salads, and never, never anything deep-fried. This cafe will not serve chips - we love them, but you'll have to go elsewhere to get them. This cafe will not douse everything in cheese. This cafe will serve the allergic parent, the vegetarian parent, the organic parent, and hopefully the rest of you will find something delicious, too.

Coffee, espresso, and one day, beer and wine will be served along with the world's most mama-friendly herbal iced (and hot) tea menu. We'll do raspberry leaf-peppermint-nettle and chamomile-raspberry leaf and green tea-chamomile and St. John's wort-lavendar. Don't worry, we'll prepare your order however you like it - if you have a baby in arms, no need to get up to juggle baby and creamer.

Ideally, play cafe @ cafe mama will be located somewhere east-side and central here in Portland, Oregon - no further north than Sandy, no further south than Gladstone, no further east than 45th or so.

Play cafe @ cafe mama exists only in my brain and that of a few dozen other mamas and daddies who live nearby. We're ready to make it a reality if only we can find the funding. Watch for more information, or contact cooperative @ cafemama.com for inquiries, feedback or to give me piles of cash.