Play time

Café caters equally to parents and kids

At Café Sip-n-Play, parents won’t encounter any dirty looks if their toddlers have a meltdown during lunch.

Every aspect of the brand new coffee shop and café is completely kid-friendly, from the mini sinks and toilets in the bathrooms, "funky monkey" flavored frappes on the kid’s drink menu and a trove of colorful toys, books, trains and games to capture a child’s imagination under a wall mural painted by Vancouver artist Shelli Kufus of Creative Interiors.

All drinks are one-size-fits all (16 ounces) to streamline the ordering process and reduce decision making. There is free WiFi access, a wide food selection and comfy furniture in mellow colors, purposefully creating a cozy atmosphere.

And owners Diana Tolentino and Mary Powell picked the least noisy toys they could find on purpose. The play areas are open to children ages 1 to 5 for a flat fee of $3.75. A pre-walkers area is open for free, and child attendants are available for ages 2 to 5 for $2 an hour for a maximum of two hours for those parents who just need some time to zone out.

The café opened Feb. 7, but the women were getting positive feedback six months before the opening via the website and serve about 25 parents an hour. There are so many, in fact, that within a matter of weeks, extra seating had to be installed to accommodate the number of customers in the 2,300-square-foot space.

The women have three part-time employees, and are looking into hiring one more. They took out loans to cover the start-up costs, and expect to begin making profits in about two years.

Both women, former longtime Delta Airlines flight attendants, are mothers of young boys and said they yearned for a place like Café Sip-n-Play.

"We have people who say they thought about doing something like this, and I always ask them why they didn’t – I would have loved to be able to come here with my little one," Tolentino said.

In planning the café, they visited several shops with similar concepts, such as Portland’s Peanut Butter & Ellie’s and Child’s Play Café in Seattle.

Tolentino and Powell haven’t done much advertising except in the three area parenting magazines, finding that word of mouth is a powerful force.

They chose the location because of the large number of families in the area and the location – close to Highway 14 and Interstate 205. As a result, the café is drawing in customers from Portland, Gresham and Forest Grove, as well as all over Vancouver, they said. It is also proving popular with dads.

Café Sip-n-Play

Diana Tolentino and Mary Powell, owners

3000 S.E. 164th Ave., Suite 107, Vancouver, 360-896-4446

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