Sisters plan to open Café O’ Play, to bring toddler play, coffee together

For most parents, minding a toddler and relaxing with a cup of coffee are mutually exclusive pursuits. But Heather and Erin Wilkinson plan to bring the two activities together under one roof.

For most parents, minding a toddler and relaxing with a cup of coffee are mutually exclusive pursuits. But Heather and Erin Wilkinson plan to bring the two activities together under one roof.

The Red Deer sisters are preparing to open Café O’ Play at 2085 Gaetz Ave., behind the commercial building where ABC Country Restaurant, Coldwell Banker and several other shops are located. It will contain an indoor play area designed for youngsters six and under, and a coffeehouse for parents and others.

Heather Wilkinson said she and her sister began planning the business a year ago. With five children between them — including four between eight months and four years in age — they recognized the need for a safe, clean environment for parents and their little ones, especially where the older generation can relax and socialize.

“Being able to see your kids from wherever you sit just makes it that much more enjoyable,” said Wilkinson.

Café O’ Play’s nearly 2,900 square feet of space will have seating for about 60, she said. Offerings at the café will include specialty coffees and smoothies, as well as foods like paninis, soups and sandwiches.

“It’s more like an upscale coffee shop,” said Wilkinson.

“Even people who don’t have children can come in and order, and sit there.”

Children’s items, including baby food, will also be available.

And Café O’ Play will be a nut-free environment.

Children who are too old for the play area will have other activities to entertain them, with electronic games and free wifi to be offered.

Birthday parties and other groups will be welcome, said Wilkinson.

She and her sister hope to open the business by mid-July. They’re already attracting plenty of interest from prospective customers, including on their Facebook page.

“We have just about 1,200 people liking our page.

“People seem pretty excited about it.”

The Wilkinsons licensed the Café O’ Play concept from an existing operator in Edmonton. There is also another licensed Café O’ Play in Sherwood Park.

They felt it was a good idea to develop their business using a proven model.

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