Stay & Play Snack Café draws in parents, kids downtown

Feb. 03, 2013 @ 02:37 PM

Pushing her youngest child, Sophia, in a stroller down East Chapel Hill Street and Rigsbee Avenue Thursday morning, Tiffany Kiefer said she was still winded from teaching a mom and baby fitness class downtown.
Kiefer, the co-owner of Healthy Moms of Durham & Chapel Hill, said this was the second fitness class taught for moms so far at Stay & Play Snack Café since the business opened at 405-A E. Chapel Hill St.
The café was launched by Durham resident Emily McCall, a 31-year-old mother of two who said she wanted to create a business that would be inviting for both children and their parents.
As a mother, McCall said she knows about the challenges of entertaining children in places that are designed for grown-ups. To help buy toys and other items needed to launch the business, she raised $17,000 through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The café’s grand opening was Jan. 19.
“I just felt like, honestly, … like it’s something our community needs,” McCall said in a previous interview with The Herald-Sun. “There are so many families. There really isn’t a place for them to go. There are models of this kind of business elsewhere. I basically just wanted this to exist.”
On Thursday, the entrance to the café was packed with strollers. A sign by the entrance instructed patrons to remove their shoes but to leave on their socks, and come to the counter to pay the entrance fee.
The café charges $4.50 for a child to play and $3 for additional siblings. They also sell 10-month passes, year-long passes and family passes.
Inside the café, some mothers sat at coffee tables talking, while others played with their children. Children were busy with blocks, a play-kitchen, a toy train table, dolls, coloring items and other toys.
There were coffee drinks for sale, as well as snacks including popcorn, raisins, carrots, and cheese cubs that were served in muffin trays.
Christina Guichard, a mother of a 2-year-old boy named John, said she came to the café on Thursday with a play group. She sat at a table with two other mothers while her son played with blocks and other toys.
“I like it so far,” Guichard said. “You can actually sit down and drink coffee, and actually get to talk.”
Amanda Shough brought her two daughters to the café Thursday morning with a play group of moms from North Durham. She said she liked it because the café is pretty inexpensive, and close to home.
“I like it; it’s a nice place,” she said. “(It was) a little busy first thing.”
McCall said the café was busy Thursday morning with two different play groups, and also because of the fitness class. She said some days have been really busy, and while others have been slower.
She’s found that she gets busy in the morning, there’s a lull around noon when parents bring their children home for naps, and then it picks back up in the afternoon.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said of the initial response to the business.
She said she’s able to bring her own children to the café with her, which she said can be complicated when things get busy, and they still need her to be mom.