Impulsive thinking

I’m thinking about all the profile shows I’ve seen of restaurant owners, where they say, “It was always our dream to open our own restaurant.” I never thought that was me. I never thought I’d have a dream like that. But now, all of a sudden (like today), I have one. I have the makings of a business plan. And it’s scary, because it’s such a cool idea and something I *so* want to exist.

It’s a coffee shop for parents and their kids. It has coffee and traditional coffee-shop food like muffins and the like, but it also has fun drinks for kids like smoothies, and healthy snacks. It has a play area with a train table, puzzles, blocks. Crayons and stickers at the tables. And some kind of showcase for work-at-home parents who make or sell their own stuff (like clothing, toys, cloth diapers), to be rotated every so often. It’s a place where parents can come to meet each other, or where groups of friends can come with their kids to have a chance to talk. There are no breakable things within the reach of kids, and plenty of things for kids to do. Maybe even a movie hour one or two days a week in the summer.

It’s a place for all the parents who loved coming to coffee shops to hang out before they had kids, but who worry about their kids breaking the expensive mugs and espresso machines on display. Or whose kids have nothing to do and want to leave after being at a coffee shop for ten minutes. Parents like me. Only, they can’t go back to when they were in college or grad school, so there’s a new coffee shop just for them. Regular people can come too, but it’s going to be too noisy to study, so all those students with their iPods and laptops will probably want to just go to one of the thousand other coffee shops that’s designed with them in mind. This one is for us.

I can’t even imagine all the zoning, health, and safety codes I’d have to adhere to. Not only are there the regular food and beverage licenses, but also whatever licenses there are for kids’ play areas. And of course I’d need a major loan, or a savvy investor. And probably the help of my husband, who’s very into his stable job and his benefits right now. Maybe I could do it with a business partner instead, but it would be kind of insane for Jack to have his job and me to be pouring everything I am into a new coffee shop. Insane, I know.

And what if, instead of hiring any slacker in a t-shirt, I hired education majors who also happened to love coffee? They could play with the kids, like taking a five-minute break to play Simon Says with whoever’s in the shop. It would be a great way for them to get babysitting gigs, too, if they wanted them, since the parents would come to know them and would see how they interact with their children.

Jack thinks I should talk to somebody who already owns a coffee shop and get them to do it, so I can enjoy the benefits without any of the risk. I told him not to kill my dream yet.

I’m creating a community here. It’s beautiful in my mind, simply wonderful. And if I ever happened to turn a profit, I’d find some awesome ways to do community outreach. I might even organize free parenting seminars and breastfeeding classes.

Is anyone else inspired yet?

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Aha! I know the perfect market -- Lancaster, PA (or somewhere between there and Baltimore). Now, if we can only find a job for Jack...
That is a really great idea! Reading your description jogged a memory of a billboard I've seen around here - and with some googling, I found it.

The Tree House Play Cafe, in my neighborhood (seriously, this is 1.6 miles from us):

Great minds think alike! It looks really similar to your ideas, though not identical. If you're serious about this eventually, maybe they'd be interested in partnering & opening a 2nd location...in Lancaster or Baltimore... :-)

The next time you're in this area, we should go! It looks cool and I'd love to check it out, but I feel like I need to go with kids. (Perhaps I'm somewhat shy after being looked at oddly for going to the Please Touch Museum alone - to check them out for a study. They took my ID & radioed up to the staff that they had an adult unaccompanied by a child! I'm glad it's safe but it was an odd experience for an adult alone. :-) )

p.s. I miss you, man! Did you get my e-mail a few weeks ago? Call me sometime when you're in controlled chaos with your little ones so we can catch up!
Lauren, that's awesome! It's significantly bigger than the one in my head, but very cool. I'm so glad somebody has made it work! I would LOVE to go there whenever we're around the Philly area again. Of course, I have no idea when that might be... and yes, I've been meaning to call you but never get a chance to pick up the phone when I'm alone with the boys. :( Maybe this week!
How about an open-jaw? Here's one option:
July 1: MSY - EWR (9:35 - 1:36)
July 6: PHL - MSY (6 PM - 8:10)
Go take a look. the SBA has a special link for women and all types of assistance in market plan....maybe you could franchise it...
there is Red Canoe here in baltimore- just like your idea and wonderful. sing alongs on wed morning and toys and fun galore along side excellent coffee. we'll go next time you are in town and you can talk to the owner who is super awesome.
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