It's been a busy few months for Emily McCall, the Durham mom behind the new Stay & Play Snack Cafe.
The business opened in January after McCall successfully raised more than $17,000 to launch it through a kickstarter.com campaign last summer.
We've had a good first few months," McCall tells me. "It's been a huge learning curve for us of course, but we are getting things figured out more and more as time goes on."
The cafe in downtown Durham (next to Rue Cler) features coffee shop fare, along with lots of toys and spaces for young children to explore. There's a small fee for kids to come in and play - $4.50 for the first child, $3 for additional kids. But visitors aren't expected to buy any food. So once you enter, you can stay and play for as long as you want.
McCall tells me she's made some changes in response to her customers. When the cafe first opened, McCall noticed that they had a traffic flow issue. The cafe would be packed in the morning, empty mid-day, and then busy in the afternoon. She quickly changed her hours so the cafe now opens at 9 a.m. every day to help ease the rush.
"Our customers have started to learn that the afternoons are a good time to visit if you can get around naps since the cafe isn't very crowded then," she said.
While McCall had worked to build a slate of special activities each day, it turns out that's not what moms, dads and caretakers wanted. They just wanted to hang and sip coffee.
"We are going to continue with storytimes and occasional free activities like afternoon crafts, but will not be offering classes in the mornings at this point, so we can allow people to use more of the space to just relax, play and chat," McCall tells me.
The cafe's menu has expanded. She's added vegan coconut banana cookies and Appalachian trail bars, in addition to the muffins the cafe already gets from 9th St. Bakery. Local baker Milk and Honey's mini cheesecakes are now on the menu (recent flavors were lemon blueberry, peanut butter cup and chocolate lavender).
The spring/summer menu will include iced coffees, along with more iced teas from supplier Two Leaves and a Bud, along with some blended drinks. McCall is thinking about offering sandwiches.
And there is now art on the walls. Local artist Kelsey Melville is showcasing her work as part of the cafe's first exhibit.