A couple of you have asked me if during my wanderings I have run into any kid-friendly cafés. It’s not always easy to find places to take kids when you go out. I can understand why. Most of the time, I avoid places where kids are likely to be making lots of noise. However, people with kids (me included) don’t always want to leave them at home and it is nice when to find a place that is geared to handle them.
It is no easy task to run a kid-friendly café. There was an article in the Oregonian last January that discussed the decision of Sip ‘n Kranz, a Pearl district café, to close its kid playroom in an attempt to improve business (the café has since changed ownership and no longer operates as Sip ‘n Kranz). Stories like these are bound to scare others from making their cafés any more accommodating for the little ones, making them few and far between. So when I find kid-friendly cafés, I’ll be sure to tell you about them.
I recently visited a couple of places that were kid-friendly, Gigibar and Bella’s Garage. They are both cafés first and kid-friendly second. By accident, I also stumbled a café whose main objective is to be kid-friendly, Café Au Play. Here’s the back story:
When I travel around PDX looking for cafés, I almost always walk or take public transportation. I don’t like to drive and on the morning I was headed to Gigibar (to meet with David Hubbard), I took the #4 bus that goes out SE Division Street. I knew Gigibar was on Division out towards Mount Tabor because I had been there once before. I also thought I knew how far out it was (50th, right?), but it turns out I was wrong. Sitting on the bus, I was reading a book when I overheard the announcement that we were at the 50th Ave stop. I quickly gathered my stuff and hopped off. There was one problem, however—Gigibar was nowhere to be found. Doh! I knew I should have written down the address. It must have been 60th and Division.
Ten blocks is not much distance for a wanderer, so I started walking. It turned out to be a good thing I did, because at 57th and Division I came across Café Au Play. With a name like that, it had to be geared for kids, and I made plans to come back later and check it out.
After a few hours at Gigibar, David and I made the short trip down the street to visit the café. It turns out the café has an interesting story. It is run by a non-profit organization whose goal is to have a “coffeehouse with play areas for children and activities for children, caregivers, and the community.” The café, which has been open for just two months, is the culmination of several years’ efforts by the group.
The location where the café sits has been many things over the years. It was recently acquired by the non-profit after the previous owners had some trouble with federal law enforcement authorities. It took a lot of time and paperwork to get the property through the system, but once they did, the group was ready to go. They completely remodeled the building to reflect its vision as a place for families. There is a play area with lots of toys that make it very welcoming for kids. When we stopped by, there weren’t many kids in the café, probably because it was about afternoon nap time. After checking things out, we sat outside, not wanting to disturb the kids that were there.
The café serves Nossa Familia espresso and coffee. Even though I didn’t need it, I had another espresso. It was solid. The café also serves other beverages (including Mexican Coke sweetened with cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup) and has a limited food menu available too. The café is planning to expand both its hours and its menu, and if you’re looking for a place to take your kids when you go out for coffee, you can take them to Café Au Play, where they are always welcome.
Address: 5633 SE Division Street, Portland, OR 97215 (map)
Phone: I haven’t found one yet
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 7:30am-4:30pm
Coffee: Nossa Familia
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommend it? Please take your kids there!