Parent friendly coffeehouse?

threeh

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Sep 18, 2010
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I am working on a business plan (very early days) for a parent friendly (meaning kid friendly) coffeehouse. The concept is that moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, etc. with 0-5 year old kids want to get out of the house during the day and have a great cup of coffee while the kids play. There would be a great playspace (1000 sq ft?) inside a regular coffeehouse. Perhaps the kids area would be separate from the rest of the coffeehouse (sound proof glass walls?) so that folks without kids could still enjoy the space.

I would offer classes, have a small retail section (unique toys), etc. Basically make it a Must GO place for parents.

I would charge a fee for using the playspace ($5?). So in my head, a mom would be in and out for about $10 (espresso drink, playspace fee, perhaps a cookie/brownie/bagel). My hope is that they would come in at least once a week.

I have found a few coffeehouses online with this business model but wanted to ask the readers of this forum for their thoughts. What do you think? I live in a large suburban area, near a college, with high level incomes.
 

John P

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Salt Lake City
There are two possible problems I see: One is just the liability issue. Someone needs to monitor the kids, they probably need to be certified to do so, and/or be prepared for hefty lawsuits if any injuries happen. Even the nicest of parents are likely to assign all blame to you if something happens. Parents don't tend to take responsibility for their children's actions like they used to.

The second is that the model will exclude everyone who is not a parent, and many parents as well. Even parents like to get away. The atmosphere would never allow for a high end product. If all you are shooting for is Starbucks or Starbucks - indie copycat quality, it might work. Kids are great when they behave like young ladies and gentleman. Exclusivity works when you are raising the bar, but probably not when you are raising the monkey bars.

I would recommend being extremely diligent in understanding everything about potential hazards to advanced consumer psychology and how it relates to ambiance before you invested any money.

Good luck with whatever you pursue. 8)
 
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threeh

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Thanks so much John. I have not talked to an insurance agent or attorney yet but perhaps I should before I dream any further. Will do so on Monday.

As for ambiance and client base - I agree - it is tricky. I don't want it to be so kid focused that the local business man wouldn't come in for a coffee. The noise barrier is key. And the naming is key.

I am not sure I understand your comment though that it wouldn't allow for a high end product. Do you mean I wouldn't bother to serve great coffee or that the shop wouldn't be high end? I am hoping for a hip, modern, clean line type of place. It wouldn't be gross jumping castles, etc. - more high end toys and activities. Think natural wood instead of primary colors.

You seem very kind and very knowledgeable John - I appreciate any advice/thoughts you have.
 
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threeh

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I guess that is my point. Kids could be kids. And parents wouldn't have to worry about glares. I just think there is a market for parents who want to go somewhere during the day and be around other adults...and wouldn't it be great if Johnny could play while Mom drinks a latte and has a bit of downtime.

And yes...I would have to sort out the hot coffee issue. : )
 

John P

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...Kids could be kids. And parents wouldn't have to worry about glares.
Think of Chuck E. Cheese with coffee. That's the potential down side. The up side? Mc Cafe.

I really want people to succeed. But I would ask you to take the time to think about what principles guide you as a person, and you as a business. And then go from there.

This may seem like a rant, but it goes to the heart, the core philosophy of your proposed model, and hopefully it gives you something to think about from the perspective of a business owner AND a consumer.

To add to what has been said, no one would complain because there are not kids within earshot or eyeshot. But plenty of people, parents and non-parents, would avoid a place that was kid friendly like the plague.

Parents who DON'T keep an eye on their kids while they are "relaxing" are horrible parents. Everyone who manages or runs a shop knows who I'm talking about. Late twenties to early thirties. The cliche "soccer mom" types. The ones who don't parent their kids, but are really uptight about having it politely pointed out. It's a huge pet peeve of mine. A few weeks ago at a local retail place here there was a horrible incident where a mother wander off to look at clothes, didn't pay attention to where her five year old daughter went. After frantically searching the store, they found the daughter with some pervert who had molested the little girl in the bathroom. Of course none of this would have happened at all if the mother cared about her kid more than the sale on blouses. I see this as catering to the exact same mindset. I'm not sure I'd want to have that sort of egocentric self-entitled kind of person as my customer base. And, as a general rule, stereotype or not, they are not good tippers. And that's a good way to tick off your hard-working barista.

As I said before. Kids should be able to come, as long as they behave like young ladies and gentlemen. And the "kids will be kids" is an issue caused by poor parenting, not because kids can't be normal. IF children are taught how to behave in public places from a young age, it makes them better people as teenagers and adults. The rowdy kid thing only seems to be a modern American (read "white") phenomenon. As an "average white guy" who happened to actually have parents, and grandparents that taught us manners, I can honestly say, most of today's parents don't do their job, which is to parent. We've never had Asian parents with misbehaving kids. They tend to play "Go", read, or talk with their parents. It would be easy to say that we're not kid friendly, but that's not the case, we just don't cater to a**holes, which refers to the parents of unruly kids. And it works. We rarely, if ever have any kids, and everyone who comes tends to be well-behaved, or they are politely asked to move-along.

Why not just have a great coffee place, welcome everyone, and expect them to act appropriately.
Sometimes there is a simple reason a business model hasn't been done. And sometimes the simplest things, like having great coffee, great service, and a great ambiance are surprisingly rare.
 
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threeh

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John - thank you for your feedback. I don't think I am explaining my idea properly but you have given me quite a bit to think about. I do need to think about how I would act with my child in such a spot versus how others might with theirs. The unruly ones would drive me around the bend as well....and annoy the parents who are using the space nicely. I guess I am thinking more of a "playspace with coffee" as opposed to coffeeshop with toys. But not a tacky playspace. Something modern, intelligent, "hip" - not jumping castles and bright lights. It would be for the 0-5s - a place for parents to meet, greet, etc.

Anyway...I will continue to work on this and get feedback and see where it goes. Perhaps you are right - perhaps it is not done that often for a reason. Will continue to research and talk and see what happens.
 

austindent

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Oct 15, 2010
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Good Idea, just keep on. To spent some time with family is very wise decision. I think everyone appreciate it. Generally we can give less time in the family, and in the coffee shop during weekend will be so enjoyable.
 

debbiej

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our shop is often frequented by families with children. we have some board games and a room with couch and chairs. but a screaming child is still a screaming child. sometime children just aren't socially acceptable. with a very few exceptions, people realize when their child is making everyone cringe and do something to fix it. If they felt more "comfortable" with such behavior, chances are there would be more of it. we have a big outside patio, although customers who bring dogs are more common. personally? I'd avoid the play group atmosphere. a coffee shop can certainly be inviting to parents and moms wanting a coffee date without specific play areas. my whole shop is 1200 sqft. can hardly imagine a 1000 sq ft play area! perhaps a few table area things: clay, coloring, games. but I too think the liability to invite a lot of child activity would be scary. when you designate such a space, you may be defining more about your shop than you ever intended.
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Hi "threeh"

When you said your were thinking "more of a "playspace with coffee" as opposed to coffeeshop with toys, I couldn't help but wonder if you've ever thought of opening your own childcare service rather than a coffee shop. You seem to be leaning in the direction, and that may be your true motivation. I really can't imagine the whole dynamics of a "playspace with coffee" working out for you in the long run. I may be wrong, and I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.

Rose
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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Charging $5 (per child?) for the use of the play area sounds a bit odd. It should rather be an added draw than an extra cost. Parents could just as well grab a coffee and take their children to a nearby park that might have a play area, for free. Does McDonald's charge to use their play area? Perhaps you could charge more for the coffee instead?

On a side note: If your coffee shop is going to be near where you live (in a college town), you might do better to create a business concept that would appeal to the college-aged students instead.

That aside, I think PinkRose nailed it. It sounds like you're more focused on the child care aspect rather than the coffee.
 
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threeh

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Thanks everyone for the continued comments. I agree that it is unusual concept, but there are some successful "play cafes" across the country. (Google play cafe if you are interested.) They are also popular in the UK and Canada (lousy weather areas mainly!). I will continue my research and come back to you with questions down the road should I finally move forward with the business. Additional comments always welcome.

Thanks!
 
Oct 27, 2010
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Adding a safe Play section in a small area, or Games on a PC or Laptop,
might be a Draw.

PC equipment Wholesale is cheep, strong, and can be fastened down, to reduce
risk of theft, or falling on a customer.

Kids and adults love them, and fun kids games are available wholesale for 5 bucks
and up, with a ton available in the lower range if you know where to Look.
We have added them to our pc packages for years, and people Love them.

Add a Few adult friendly Games or Business Tools, with or without the Internet,
Study tools, if you are in a College Town, or where Students frequent,
and you might have something others do not Offer.


We may be able to help source out these items, if anyone needs to find them at the right place
and price, and if anyone feels it might be a good fit.
or even thinks it might help
Rick H
 
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