Emily McCall, the mom of two and owner of Durham's new Stay & Play Snack Cafe, was very busy when I met up with her this week.
McCall was unpacking toys and getting the last permits squared away for the big grand opening on Saturday as her two young daughters played and ran around the space.
McCall will see her year-old vision come to life this weekend as the doors officially open for the coffee house and play space on East Chapel Hill Street in downtown Durham. It's next to Rue Cler, for those familiar with downtown Durham.
As I've written before, the cafe is as much play space, primarily for preschoolers and under, as it is coffee house. And that's why there is a small admission fee for kids. The fee is $4.50 for the first child and $3 for additional kids. Playgroups pay $3 per child. McCall also offers passes and membership to make for cheaper regular visits.
Families can come here for a latte or juice and snack. Or they can just hang out here all day and not buy any food while the kids play with the toys and the adults gather on a couch with friends to chat.
"You can just come and hang out and enjoy the space," McCall said. "If that's what you want to do, that's what we're here for."
The idea for the place came about after McCall's second daughter was born. McCall wanted to get out of the house with her young girls, but she couldn't find a place where they were all happy. There wasn't much to do at local coffee shops beyond getting a quick snack. And big museums or kid attractions involved a day running after the kids.
So, with the help of money from a successful campaign on Kickstarter.com, McCall has created a small space filled with plenty of toys that will keep kids entertained. There was a play kitchen, train table, doll house, train, books and other toys out when I visited the other day. At the same time, the space is small enough so parents came keep an eye on their child at all times.
To keep it clean, the cafe is a no shoes zone. There will be cubbies at the door to keep shoes. Everybody, including adults, must wear socks.
The cafe's menu will include coffee drinks, juice and milk. Snacks include muffins, raisins, dried apples, animal crackers, cheese cubes and popcorn from Durham's Madpopper.
McCall will offer a slate of regular activities, including storytimes, crafts and a 4 p.m. daily dance party.
She's also working with My SweetArts, which will offer music and sensory art classes, and Healthy Moms, which will offer its mom and baby total body conditioning, for an additional fee. A cafe employee will offer regular mom and tot yoga classes.
Saturday's grand opening will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day includes some special activities, including a photo booth, craft table and 2 p.m. concert featuring the Sandbox band. Play passes on Saturday will be $3 per child. Also, don't forget those socks!
After Saturday, the regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday.