For the fun of it: Zionsville family opens play cafe for parents and children

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There’s a new way to play in Zionsville this winter.

A grand opening was held Jan. 16 for The Busy Bee, a play cafe for parents and children.

Zionsville couple Kristina and Kevin Lai created an indoor playground at 5635 W. 96th St., focusing on children and adults. With “little to nothing similar” in the area, the Lai family hopes their business will bring something new and exciting to town.

“Our indoor playground is different from others because we’re also focused on the adults having a good experience. We’re not just 100 percent kid-focused,” Kristina said. “We want the kids to have a great time, but we also want parents to have an equally great time.”

At $15 for a full day pass, the new business features an indoor play structure, playhouses and a mini road for little ones to drive on. There are couches, worktables, gourmet coffee and snacks for adults, so parents can relax while their children play.

“We have a full espresso bar and treats from Zionsville Bake Shop,” Kristina said. “Our walk-in daily admission is $15, so if families want to leave, go home for a nap and return in the afternoon, they can do that. We don’t do time limits unless we’re at capacity.”

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From left, Lucy, Abigail and Natalie Anderson playing on the slide during opening day.

The new business offers monthly memberships for those with one child at $48 per month, and for families with multiple children the cost $68 per month. Play packs, which come with four passes at $50 or eight passes at $95, are also available.

Birthday parties are also offered at the new indoor playground, and Kristina said reservations are filling up.

“We have three party rooms, and we’re booking up pretty quickly,” Kristina said. “We’re running about 10 parties a weekend right now, and we expect that to increase because there’s not a ton of party options on this side of town.”

The family is excited about the business venture.

“There are great things to do in Castleton and on the west side of town (in Zionsville), but there wasn’t a whole lot indoors on the north side,” Kristina said. “We have a ton of great hiking trails and outdoor activities, but in the winter, there’s little to do on this side of town.”

The Lai family designed the space with safety in mind. Kristina said the play structure is smaller, which serves a purpose.

“We designed (the play structure) so parents can see where their kid is at all times,” Kristina said. “There are no blind spots, and parents can see their child and go up there if they need to help them.”

The space, designed primarily for kids 1 to 11, includes a pretend play town, where children can play make-believe with different careers. The play area has no age limit.

“They can be a vet for the day, or they can deliver some mail,” Kristina said. “We also have some large Lego bricks, but they’re not Lego. They’re just large building blocks for kids to build little structures. We think they will enjoy that.”

As a nurse with four young children, Kristina was ready to find a career that worked better with her children’s schedules. The idea for the indoor cafe and playground came about 10 years ago when the Lai family attended a birthday party at a similar business.

“We first had the idea at my niece’s birthday party, just looking around realizing that the kids were having a blast,” Kristina said. “However, there was nowhere for parents to sit or any good food to enjoy. That’s how we came up with the coffee bar.”

Kristina’s husband Kevin said the couple’s kids love that the space is designed with them and their friends in mind.

“It’s been a long journey getting from conception to launch, and our whole family is so proud to share our dream with our neighbors, friends and community,” Kevin said.

Kristina said the name Busy Bee came to mind because it describes the busy nature of children and parents.

“I was trying to think of a word that describes parents and kids equally, and the first one that popped into my mind was busy, but busy in different ways,” Kristina said. “Kids are just busy in general, but parents are busy, too. We want to let them both come in here and be busy or not at the same time, depending on how they’re feeling. They can bring some work to do while the kids play or just come and relax.”

The business is open year-round, seven days a week, with the possibility of expansion.

“We are going to wait and see how this goes,” Kristina said. “I’m doing this on my own for the most part, but I’ve heard other business owners say that and open up a second location on the other side of town. So, it’s not off the table but there are no active plans.”

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The play structure in the cafe is built with zero blind spots so parents can watch their children.

IF YOU GO

Address: 5635 W 96th St. Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46278

Hours of operation: The Busy Bee is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Website: thebusybeeplaycafe.com


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