Winter weather. Toddlers. A need to get out of the house. Cabin fever. Sound familiar?

She found herself stuck inside with a kiddo — again. Sure, friends would come over. But wouldn’t it be great if they could go somewhere and meet up for a latte while the kids played? But there wasn’t any place like that in Baltimore. Nothing like The Landromat Cafe in Reykjavik, Iceland or other restaurants she had been to in Western Europe.

Until now.


“I want to provide a service,” she said. “And there is definitely a need.”

That’s what Hampden mom Kathy Schott told me when I asked her what inspired her new venture, Play Cafe Baltimore.

The need? A place where parents can comfortably kick back and have a good cup of java or a great salad, with kids in tow. The cafe is slated to open in Hampden this April.

Don’t sweat. This is not a reinvention of Chuck E Cheese with a side of espresso. Kathy and her business partner (fellow Hampden dad/neighbor Ryan Sterner) are planning a menu and play space for sophisticated palates — pint sized and adult. Simple, delicious options for breakfast, brunch and lunch and a play area designed to engage kiddos ages 0 to 8. Like you’re walking into a neighbor’s house for a meal. A neighbor that just happens to be a fabulous cook.

Coffee with Kathy Schott, Play Cafe Baltimore - (cool) progeny

“You won’t find a chicken nugget on the menu,” said Kathy. “I won’t say you won’t find grilled cheese. Because we are going to have awesome grilled cheese. But our way. With a twist.”

{Who DOESN’T like grilled cheese?}

Kathy was a bit tight-lipped about the kids’ menu, so no spoilers there; however, she did say that the menu will be interactive and give their smallest patrons a lot of choices.

While parents relax in the restaurant — yes, you must supervise your kids, it’s not a drop-off — kids will be able to indulge in pretend and creative play, dress-ups, blocks, games, and more. You’ll be able to see them from where you’re sitting.

“I’ve traveled all over Europe and this concept is everywhere, restaurants with play spaces,” said Kathy. “I want to start a movement here in Baltimore.”

Although she comes from a family of restauranteurs and worked in a mom ‘n pop place in college, owning a cafe is a new venture for Kathy. But with her background in marketing (agency and trade association) and Ryan’s background in restaurant management, Kathy believes they have the dream team. It’s a (cool) story. Two Hampden parents with toddlers creating something specifically for Baltimore families. And anyone else who wants to stop by — because, as Kathy said, the food is going to be delicious.

The decor is designed to be comfortable and retro toy chic, sending parents on a childhood memory trip. Kathy and Ryan want a bright, cheerful space that plays homage to the vintage quirkiness that defines the neighborhood.

Ideas are definitely brewing {pun intended}. Kathy mentioned that she’s constantly thinking about how the space will serve the community — from events, to play times, to outside water tables in the summer, and more. Keep an eye on their website for more information and an opening date.

“I have an entrepreneurial spirit,’ said Kathy, “but this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this.”

… I’m glad she did. How about you?

Play Cafe Baltimore is at 3400 Chestnut Street, Hampden. Stay tuned for details about their grand opening!