Photo courtesy of Sarah Bakkum
For parents and grandparents who’ve dreamed of a spot to enjoy gourmet fare while the children chow down, then dash off to play to their hearts’ content, Sarah Bakkum is your new fairy godmother.
Bakkum is the mother of two young kids. Her husband travels often for work, so she knows that too-exhausted-to-make-dinner feeling. She also knows that eating out alone with two children is usually more trouble than it’s worth, and that fast food, while delicious and convenient, is a less-than-healthy dinnertime staple. When her husband’s in town, they enjoy hitting the local restaurant scene, but find it can be hard to get out of the house with no family members in town to babysit.
“We craved a restaurant with a running track for kids that served ‘foodie’ food,” Bakkum says. (Parents: Don’t we all?) So she decided to open one.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $15,000 last summer, Bakkum’s Play & Learn Cafe opens today in Minnetonka. The full-service restaurant offers separate, health-focused menus for the kids and the grownups, so you can nosh on chickpea coconut curry while your four-year-old takes on the Hungry Caterpillar Plate, a sampling of each food the fabled Eric Carle character eats (one must decide between the lollipop and the cupcake for dessert).
The cafe looks directly onto the play area so adults at the tables can keep an eye on the kids, who will very likely be racing around the ceiling-high play structure, burying themselves in the rubber mulch digging pit, or (gasp!) coloring on the wall. No harm, no foul, dear parents! That’s what it’s there for. To keep things fresh, toys change regularly according to themes like farm and outer space.
Bakkum, a former teacher, also wanted to add an educational component, so two classrooms at the cafe host classes for kids and adults, along with birthday parties sporting themes like Mustache, Ladybug, and Secret Agent Spy.
“We want to support young families in every way possible,” she explains. “So far we have partnered with Brighter Minds Music, Behave Your Best parenting classes, Language Sprout, Yoga Kids, Curious Minds, Computer Kids, and we are looking at adding a dance program.”
Considering she’s also raising two kids, it’s enough to make your head spin. But she says, “Seeing everyone happy makes me happy. I was able to see a void in the community, I created a vision, and now I can live the reality of it.” Happily, we can, too.
Play & Learn Cafe, admission $5 per child or free with a $20 food purchase through March 31, 10982 Cedar Lake Rd., Minnetonka, 612-599-7282, playandlearncafe.com