Monday, December 31, 2012


With only a few weeks to go until the grand opening, things are falling into place at a dizzying pace over here! Our needed supply list has made it over the hump where now there are fewer things we need than things we have secured, although I am always thinking of something else we need of course! We have hired some really fun and talented baristas and class instructors. Painting is sccheduled for TODAY in the store. We've also got most of the grand opening details in place. It will be such a fun day, you won't want to miss it!

It is amazing to think that in just a few weeks this will have gone from just an idea in this mama's head to a real place we can go and hang out with our kids! I am so thankful to everyone who's support helped us along and glad to see this becoming a reality. Won't be long now!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Working for beans

The life of a play cafe owner has many facets, some glamourous and some not so. But some of its recent perks have come through our coffee selection process. We have been meeting some of the nicest roasters, suppliers, machine specialists, etc., and they keep making us really fabulous cups of coffee. The other day when we went to pick up Essie from the repair shop we were exposed to such a force in the realm of espresso that it left me buzzed in more than one sense. Who out there knows Dick Tabor? This man is really cool. I wish you could all meet him. If you get the chance (he takes care of a lot of great coffee-shop equipment in the area), do! You will come away with a much greater appreciation for what an espresso machine is capable of and why that is so wonderful. I hope we can pass on some of that experience to you all. We sure will try!

But yesterday I also had the pleasure of receiving at my door a basket of 5 kinds of locally roasted fair trade beans from a roaster in Durham called Bean Peace. We sampled one (decaf!) version with dessert last night and really enjoyed it. Today we are visiting another roaster in Raleigh to try their coffee. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it.

Ok, have I made you jealous yet? If so just notice the time this was posted. (Then, relax, it must be on pacific time! : ) ) It wasn't the first thing I did this morning by a long shot either. 5:30 wake-ups are one of those less glamourous facets. Good thing they go along with good coffee right? : )

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Merry Christmas from Stay & Play!

We set up a little Christmas display in the window at the store today! The sign there is the same tried and true one from our kickstarter campaign last summer. She has a few battle scars, and never fear, we will have a brand spanking new big permanent one over the door shortly, but I thought it would be fun to give that sign a last hurrah as the first display in the brick and mortar shop. Don't you?

We will soon be adding some twinkle lights, but I was too excited about it not to give you a little sneak peek. ; )

Thursday, November 29, 2012


The other day I read this post. I love Amber Dusick's blog. She frequently has me in tears from laughing so hard. But that particular post sort of captures how much fun it is for me to gather all the toys for our store. Maybe you never really grow out of liking toys, (or maybe I never did, and that's why I've got such a passion for play cafes!). Anyway, I've got a master spreadsheet going and am trying to get the best stuff sourced for the best prices, so we can have more to play with. I am feeling a little bit of pressure since I know all you other parents out there are also looking for the best toys at the best prices to put under your Christmas trees. If anybody buys anything awesome on amazon and leaves only one more item in stock, let me know! I'm living in fear a bit. ; ) But I do have tricks other than amazon up my sleeve too just so you know.

I thought it might be fun to feature some of the toys I'm picking up to give you a little preview of what we will have in the store. Today I'll show two of our infant toys. This is the Wonderworld Peek-a-boo ball. I think it's really cute and can't wait to see your little crawlers chasing it around the baby area.

Wonderworld Peek-a-boo Ball
Also from Wonderworld are these stacking rings.

Wonderworld New Stacking Rings

What baby does't love stacking rings right? I did opt for the nontoxic painted wooden version for us. It's just so much prettier, still cleanable, and green too. Win, win, win.

More toy profiles will be coming up soon. Don't forget to put your two cents in if you think there's something we really need to have. I'm all ears!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Home sweet home

We signed our lease for our store today! It was a long time coming, but I am really happy about where we landed. Our new home is 405A East Chapel Hill Street in downtown Durham. It is a really nice space with a layout that will be perfect for cordoning off our play areas. It has a lot of what we need in terms of kitchen equipment already there, which makes our buildout less expensive, and faster as well. And the bathroom has such pretty tile! You'll love it.

It is SO exciting to stand there and see the actual shape of what we've been thinking about and planning for for so long. Having the location nailed down allows all the really fun details to begin to come together as well. A general layout will soon lead to specific toys and furniture that will be the stuff of relaxation and third space escape for us and our kids. And the extra exciting thing is that our  construction timeline has actual dates in it! (I superstitiously feel like I shouldn't reveal them over the interwebs. You never know how long things are going to take, ahem. --Lesson learned from lease negotiation.) It should be very soon that we can invite you to our grand opening! And our preview party for our super-supporters from kickstarter! Get excited folks! This is for real!

Now that things are rolling with our physical location, you can expect much more frequent updates over here about what is happening. But for now mark this address as our new home (and yours!)!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Leases, and grease traps, and sofas, oh my!

Just a little hello to keep you posted about what we are working on these days. We are still trying hard to get our location nailed down. This is taking some time, but we hope to be able to give you an update on that soon.

In the meantime, we have been forging some great connections in the community--talking to local farmers we hope to source some of our snacks from, meeting with other businesses we'd like to partner with for things, and just making new friends who didn't know about our kickstarter campaign but are really excited to hear that we are coming to town.

We've also been getting down to the nitty gritty of figuring out details like equipment specs, grease trap requirements, and order processing times for sofas. Lots and lots of math, folks. I'm doing it so you don't have to. : ) Just come and enjoy the fruit of my labor once we hit our big opening day. Can't wait to see you there!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Today Stay & Play bought it's first real asset- our espresso machine! We now own a La Cimbali M30 Dosatron! She is red, and experienced, and was making espresso just this morning at her old restaurant. But we are really excited to have her join the Stay & Play team! We even named her. Essie. I am so excited to think of all the happy parents she will warm up, satisfy, and caffeinate in our store. We are currently trying to rig her up in the house so we can really hone our brewing skills.

Here are a few photos.

I think Essie has always wanted to work in a play cafe. Evidence: she came to us with a Curious George sticker on one of her knobs.

So great to see this first piece of the cafe become tangible! Stay tuned! We'll keep you posted as more comes together.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wheels are turning

Even though the interwebs have been quieter about Stay & Play over the past few weeks after our big finish, the wheels have been continuing to turn over here. Not we are getting into the exciting business of choosing a physical location for the cafe, which will help us define a lot more variables and details related to our plans. Once the lease is official, we'll do a big reveal and tell you about why we are excited about the space. But for know, just know that we are!

Also in the works is a new website. It sure is exciting to look at our "SUCCESSFUL!" kickstarter page, but now that we are for real we need something a bit more permanent. Hopefully that should be up and running in a week or so. Once we have it together, you will be able to find details in an organized and central location there, as they develop. It is going to be really really exciting to see this all come together. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We did it! You did it!

Well well well, we've bought ourselves a play cafe. : ) It was quite a dramatic finish! We had a whopping 65 new backers today to add to the 157 earlier bird backers we starter with 24 hours ago. 222 people are in and we are going to go! THIS IS SO EXCITING! I am abuzz with thoughts and ideas and plans that now get to become concrete. I am so thankful for everyone that put their faith in this concept and am ready to give it my all to make this place awesome.

Please let me know if you have suggestions about how to do it, and let's get to work!

Oh, just wanted to also leave you with this picture (it's by Jeremy B) that I've had open in my browser for the last week or so when it looked anything but sure:

And then we didn't fail! Yayyyyyy!!!!!! But just be reminded guys, try! You never know. Look, we did it!

Last day!

Wow! The last day or so has been really exciting! We are getting really close, even as we are running out of time. And we have had some lovely press. The Stir Crazy Moms of Durham wrote such a nice post about us, it was like a nice cup of tea and a hug to kick off the last 24 hours. Then we got another great surprise when Go Ask Mom on posted about us again to remind people how short our time is. Whatever happens, it has been so so nice to feel the support of our community for this plan. I really hope we get it and we can all have a big group hug and high five over at the cafe soon!

10 hours left! Let's see what the day brings!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Kickstarter experience

Well we have 9 days to go with our kickstarter campaign! I thought I'd write a little bit about what it's been like to run a project on kickstarter and why we chose to do it this way. The why seems like a good place to start. Obviously reason number one is it takes money to open up a cafe-quite a bit, and more than we have. But we really think that this is a place Durham needs, and hope that enough people agree that they would be willing to buy in early. We have had so many people get excited about it and have had such a great time meeting other parents of young kids that that alone has made it a really valuable experience. But boy would it be great if we could hit our goal. And if we can, it will have been such a great thing that we met so many of you ahead of time and have got some excitement going in the community even before we open our doors for the first time.

What is it like to put ourselves out there and try to sell our concept? Exciting and not as scary as I expected, probably just because the idea seems to sell itself quite a bit. I love it, and people I talk to almost always love it too. So that makes it really pretty fun. And I've discovered I really enjoy meeting random folks with kids, because just by virtue of being parents we have a ton in common right off the bat. The part of running the campaign that does knot my tummy up a bit is checking for our actual pledges. When we started the campaign, I thought well we'll throw this out there and see what happens. If we can't do it, no big deal, at least we tried. But the funny thing that has happened is that as I've been convincing others how great Stay & Play will be, I, myself have become even MORE convinced of how great it would be and how much we need it. I am still ok with the fact that we may not get there, but I'm even more excited about the idea than I used to be based on all the positive feedback I've received. So the will we or won't we do it question has become one I'm very concerned with. Refreshing my email for the latest stats on the project has become a nervous tic. : )

So there's a little peek inside our experience. What do you all think about kickstarter?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Did you see us at the Children's Parade at Durham Central Park this morning? It was a great time!

How do you like our deco job on our wagon? Wagon decorating is a seriously fun thing. We'll have to see if we can somehow incorporate or channel that into a craft class once we open, eh?

We got to chat with some folks who are excited about what we're doing and saw lots of friends and also just had a blast hanging out with so many of Durham's young families. Hope you enjoyed your holiday too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thanks Bien-Aime!

We just finished up two days of handing out our flyers and some free cups of iced coffee (goodness it was hot outside today!) at Bien-Aime Children's Consignment Boutique on Main St. Thanks so much to everyone who braved the heat and came out to see us! If you missed us there, be sure to look for us tomorrow when you're at the Durham Farmer's Market, or early next week at Southwest Regional and Main Library Branches.

Also be sure to visit Bien Aime when you are walking around downtown. Amy has some great kid's clothing in her store at great prices, and is really nice person and great supporter of local business! Thanks again Bien Aime!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Up and running at kickstarter!

Well, it's been a good first half day at kickstarter! We've already hit 7% of our funding, thanks to our super pioneer backers! You guys who have gotten us up and running over there are just awesome and I am so thankful for you! It's great to know that there are people who love this idea enough to actually put some proof behind it. There are a few pioneers who I've never met yet too, and that feels really cool. It's like we are instant friends because we are both into this thing!

If you are thinking about making a pledge, jump in and do it! The more momentum we can build at the beginning, the better and more convincing our case will be for people who aren't sure about us yet. (Remember this money doesn't actually draft for a month, and then it only drafts if the cafe is actually going to go!) It's going to take a lot of momentum to get us all the way to the goal, and every little push will help. Here is the link to the project. It's going to be an exciting ride! Jump on!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Flyers ready to fly!

Wooooo! The excitement is riding high over here this evening. I am just about to push go on our humble, no wait, AWESOME, kickstarter project. We are planning some cool events over the next few weeks to get out and tell people in person about why we need Stay & Play and what it will take to bring it here, namely pledges to our kickstarter campaign. So look for me around town and say hello! I would love to build you a boat or hat . . . That's right folks, if you are willing to talk to me for a minute, you will the chance to watch our little flyer transform itself before your very eyes into a boat or a hat. In some venues, we will be adding feathers or flags to our creations. But the important thing about this is to get us all excited about hanging out together and doing fun things with our kids. I'm looking forward to seeing you! By the way, if this boat/hat thing is just too exciting for you to wait on, here is a copy of the flyer (2 sides) for you to print out and make at home. I would just print the front if you can only do one side (like my home printer). See you soon! Hopefully wearing your Stay & Play hat!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Video, check.

Finally finished my video for the kickstarter! That felt like one of the biggest hurdles to getting up and running with our fundraising, so I'm glad to have it done! I think it came out pretty cute too, mostly just because of the toddler-speak. How can you not love that? Stay tuned for our launch and some promotional events to be announced shortly!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So much to be desired!

Just spent the morning with my girls at Southpoint. It made me so excited for our cafe to be open!! There is little better than hanging out with friends and watching our beautiful kids have fun, but oh for some coffee, snacks, nicer seating, better toys, closer potty facilities (definitely made the trek to the potty and did a stroller diaper change both this morning), and cozier spot (definitely watched my friend chase her toddler out into the mall several times this morning also). Who's with me?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're official!

Woo hoo! Just checked online and Stay & Play Snack Cafe is registered as a business with the NC Secretary of State. Can't wait to get some bricks and mortar behind that certificate!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Well, hello!

Hi everyone! I've been busy thinking and planning about how to make Stay & Play the perfect place for us to hang out. I'll keep you posted on new developments as things firm up. But for now just know that I've got a lot of big ideas I'm getting excited about. Any of your own ideas for what would make this place great? Leave me a comment!