Play Cafe (3400 Chestnut Ave.,  469-9784, playcafebaltimore.com), which first announced in early February that it was bringing a kid-friendly dining option to Hampden, is now open. The cafe had its soft opening on Monday, and by this weekend the kitchen should be fully stocked and ready to serve everything on the menu, says Ryan Sterner, the cafe's co-owner (who is a co-parent with CP Senior Designer Athena Towery).
The menu features snacks for kids—think ants on a log ($2.50)—as well as coffee drinks and smoothies, breakfast foods, sandwiches, and salads, including a build-your-own-salad option ($8), that even adults without kids can enjoy.
And Sterner wants to emphasize that the cafe isn't just for grownups with little ones in tow. "We’re definitely a fully operational cafe; we have game board tables, so we welcome adults to come in" for their own playtime, he says. As for those with tots, there's a play area with a puppet theater station, a play kitchen set, bins full of toy cars and jumbo blocks, and "tons of books," Sterner says. The seating is arranged so that the play area is visible from any of the tables, so parents can sit wherever they want and still keep an eye on their kids.
The cafe is currently open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on the weekends, though Sterner says he and co-owner Kathy Schott might eventually adopt later hours, as "I've already seen a lot of demand" for dinner hours, with patrons trying to come to the restaurant after it's closed.