Cafe O'Play: The Playdate for Everyone!
The growing IPAC industry has sprung up around the country to meet the needs of parents, caregivers, and children who are looking for an entertainment experience less focused on electronic video-games, noisy bounce houses, and unhealthy food and more focused on active/engaging play, a relaxing place to build community, and making healthier food choices. "Cafe O'Play" will be just this type of place.
We are the Green Family (John, Carolyn, Jonathan (12), Daniel (10), Peter (8), and Claire (6), and we want to open an "indoor play cafe" (or IPAC) in the Akron/Cleveland area. Over the last few years our family has had a chance to visit several different IPAC's around the country. Places like The Chelsea Treehouse in Chelsea MI, Cool Beans Play Cafe in West Palm Beach FL, Lotte's and Lollipops in Columbus OH, and Little Beans Cafe in Chicago IL have all inspired us to open our own IPAC here in Ohio.
Key features of Cafe O'Play include:
- Large indoor playground. Featuring creative and imaginative play areas for children 10 years old and younger, this playground will include a multilevel play structure designed by Orca Coast Playgrounds, a separate crawler / toddler play area, an indoor sports court, an innovative EyePlay interactive floor by Eye Click Inc., and a 17' hexagonal Gaga Ball court.
- Cafe/Coffeehouse. With seating capacity for over 70 customers, our cafe will serve delicious coffee and healthy snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Over 75% of seated customers will have clear line-of sight into the play area through a windowed knee-high wall. A separate, secure entrance into the play area for children & caregivers only will allow for safe and secure play.
- Party space and services. The three large, private party rooms can be combined into one larger space for corporate events. Trained party staff will offer in-café party hosting for: Youth birthday parties, Grandma/Grandpa Birthday parties, Tea Parties, and corporate events.
- Performance space for concerts and special events. Instructors will lead regular fit clubs for moms and dads and other events will include children’s concerts as well as adult/acoustic “house” concerts, meet the author events with children’s authors, and classes for kids such as arts and crafts, story time, and others.
- Retail store. Within the cafe we will feature a small retail area with a selection of unique children's gifts and toys as well as Cafe O’Play branded merchandise. We are calling this retail area "Rose Mary's Boutique" in honor of John's mom who passed away this year.
Location of Cafe O'Play:
Below are renderings of the Cafe O'Play layout:
The three party rooms are in the top left corner. Two fo them are separated by a collapsible wall allowing these two combined rooms to be used for larger group events. At this point we've decided to forgo doing a "Laser Maze" in the third room and instead use that as another party room space. We hope to turn that into a Laser Maze in year two. The Sports Court includes a Gaga Ball Pit, which is a kinder-gentler form of dodgeball popular at kids summer camps. The separate Toddler Area will allow our younger guests to have fun and play. Between this area and the sports court is the exciting Eye Play floor featuring 60 interactive games projected onto a white floor. In the middle of the play area is our huge indoor climbing structure.
The play area is separated from the coffeehouse area by a knee high wall featuring a 4'5" glass window so that parents sitting in the cafe will have a clear line of sight into the play area.
CONSTRUCTION HAS COMMENCED!!!!
Our initial start-up budget for this project was $500,000. This was broken down as:
- Build-out and leasehold improvements, $113,966.67
- Equipment, $285,500.00
- Staffing start up costs, $29,700.00
- Professional fees, permits, and services, $45,000.00
- Initial inventory and other costs, $25,833.33
Most of our projections were on target, except for the build-out costs. These will be significantly higher than the $113K we budgeted. Proceeds from this Kickstarter campaign will go towards these extra build out costs.
SPECIAL WORD FOR BACKERS WHO LIVE OUTSIDE OUR AREA:
As you can see, many of our incentives include free daily, monthly, or annual passes. For those backers who live outside our area but who want to support this effort, if you choose a level that includes a free pass of some type, we will pass that onto a local church or charity that will give that pass to a family who perhaps can't afford to visit Cafe O'Play as often as they might wish.
So it's a twofer for you: you get to support this great business AND make a meaningful impact on the life of a needy family!
Other photos and information can be found at the Cafe O'Play Facebook Page including ongoing construction photos.
Please join oureNewsletterlist to stay in touch and be informed of our latest developments.
Feel free to call us at (330) 920-1108 or email John at email@example.com or Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Risks and challenges
Some of the unique risks and challenges we will face with Cafe O’Play, include:
To reduce the potential for injuries and lawsuits, Cafe O’Play will employ every means possible to protect children from hurting themselves on the play equipment. Cafe O’Play will only utilize the softest and most extensively-padded equipment in the industry. Furthermore, Cafe O’Play will employ trained staff to continuously monitor each play area and enforce the rules of the play café. The play café will be designed to provide parental viewing on all sides and at all times. Parents will also be encouraged to play in the equipment with their children (knee pads will be available for a nominal charge.) In addition, security wristbands will be issued to each person upon entering to ensure the child's safety and prohibit stranger abduction of children. Strict security and health safety measures will be observed at all times.
Weekly Usage Patterns
With a projected 60% of revenue coming from Friday through Sunday, it will be important to effectively utilize capacity on weekdays. Cafe O’Play will provide the following services to increase customer usage during this period: group discounts to day care centers, churches, community groups, and schools, a frequent user card to encourage repeat customer visits, nutritious food to attract health-conscious families, free fit-clubs for moms/caregivers, and weekday special events such as animal shows or magicians. Special midweek birthday party packages will also be offered.
We anticipate the winter months to be the strongest, and the beginning of summer and the beginning of the school year as usually the weakest periods. On a quarterly basis, Cafe O’Play’s best quarter should be the first, followed by the fourth, third, and second quarters. To manage this seasonal variation in customer demand, management will actively monitor weekly sales volume and maintain a flexible staffing arrangement. The two year cash flow in our Financial Projections spreadsheet builds in this projected seasonality.
Threat of a Fad Product
There is a risk that children may tire of the concept of indoor padded playgrounds. To keep the concept fresh, Cafe O’Play will strive to introduce new play equipment, skill games, and/or new marketing concepts annually. Our initial projections are to withhold 5-10% of gross earnings each year for future enhancements. Owners, John and Carolyn Green, are members of IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and are active in the FEC component of this association. Through this trade association the owners and key staff will stay informed on current industry trends and ideas. In addition, the management is committed to ongoing research and development in the area of child interaction and stimulation through consultation with local child psychologists, university researchers, and other professionals.
Off-Peak Attendance Strategies
During the weekdays throughout the year and during nice summer weather, Cafe O’Play will experience its greatest attendance challenges. Co-Owner John Green has spent several months visiting Indoor Play Café’s throughout the Midwest as well as networking with industry consultants. Based upon these contacts the following strategies will be employed during off-peak hours:
- Partnerships with day cares, preschools, and home school groups throughout the market area for regular field trips.
- Regular monthly events such as “special needs family nights”, “aspergers /autism nights”, “single parent nights”, “big brother/big sister play” where the environment is geared to these group’s specific needs
- School/church fundraisers.
- Character visits on a regular basis.
- Special discounts to Military on Veterans, Memorial, and 4th of July, Teachers during breaks, and to Scouting families throughout the year.
- “Happy Hours”, check in between 3pm-5pm on Monday nights (or other specific day of the week) for a discounted admission. Free face painting included.
- Drop-Off Day Camps during the summer at 3hr intervals. This will include 8 week themed sessions that will run from mid June – mid August.
- Obesity prevention partnerships with daycares and preschools.
- (30 days)