Mitchell’s Plain has long awaited the emergence of a play park within its borders. Instead of driving out of the area to find fun, safe activities for children, Play Day Café, at Watergate Park – the new shopping complex next to the R300 – offers parents the option of spending the day with their kids, closer to home.
The Play Day Café is upstairs, overlooking the backyard parking lot of the complex. It’s neighboured only by Zone Fitness, in a very quiet, isolated part of the ‘mall’.
The large space is fitted with wooden play structures, all designed and built by Wooden Elements.
“They specialise in play parks and jungle gyms etc. There is no job to big or small for them, they do jungle gyms in your back yard or even at schools” says the owner of Play Day Café, Nazeemah De Vries.
“They built a few Play Parks in Cape Town – PlayStation Adventure Park in Tokai, Playdate Super Park in Waterfront and Wild West in Somerset. The owner, Ryan Kuhn is the most amazing down to earth person I have ever met. He truly designed a masterpiece and his team done an amazing job executing the plans. He went the extra mile and even put in additional things because he wanted the end result to look amazing. They designed the art work on the walls and built all tables and chairs in the café. ”
Besides playing, there are several toys and foods on sale; like waffles, slushies and general treats – and parents can sit comfortably on the many outdoorsy dining tables and benches, and enjoy a meal while the kids have a blast.
Nazeemah co-owns the space with her husband, Khaleel. This is their first entrepreneurial venture.
The pair answered a few of YOH Radio’s questions:
What are your business backgrounds?
Khaleel has retail experience, management and IT experience. He has a degree in Marketing and Business Administration. He has been working at Capitec Bank’s head office for 7 years now.
Nazeemah holds a diploma in management, with experience in contact centres.
“I started out as an agent and slowly worked my way up to a Complaints Officer, handling Ombudsman queries and CEO complaints, I then got promoted to a Team Leader and managed the team responding to all the Social Media enquiries for the Bank, I got exposure to manage a department for 3 months shortly before I left”.
What made you open the Play Day Café?
“Our plan was always to open our own business but the idea was never really there. The capital we raised from savings, investments and shares. We purchased vending machines that we placed in offices and the idea was always to raise more capital for the “bigger business”. We initially wanted to open an edu-care since I love kids and planning to do a PGCE, but there was too much red tape and me not having the teaching qualification kind of hindered that idea”.
“It was when my son (who is now 3 years old) was around a year old, we were looking for a place to just have coffee while he plays that we realised there is nothing close by and we have to travel more than 30km. Then, the idea was born, my son is really our inspiration and the heart of it all. Even the décor was inspired by the love he has for animals”.
What made you open one in Mitchell’s Plain and more specifically, Watergate?
Well, we are from Mitchell’s Plain and for the last 2 years we have been looking for a space. We knew it had to be in a shopping centre and there are not many options.
We approached Westgate Mall at the time Jet just closed, their ceiling was extremely low and we asked if we can’t remove the ceiling to accommodate the play structure. They said no, from there on there was also too much red tape.
We approached Promenade but what made it difficult was that we had no business financial history and nobody is willing to give you a chance if you are first time business owners – especially a mall as established as Promenade.
Then, we approached Watergate – at first we were sceptical because we have not actually been there and it’s fairly new and there is a misconception that it’s not safe.
After viewing the premises, we found that it is very safe and it was an advantage being next to the gym since we are keen to partner up (parents can gym and drop off their kid). We found that security is very much visible and to date there has not been any major security violations.
We grabbed the opportunity with both hands, it was the space that we needed and we could just picture the play park there. We were so excited!
We are happy that we can offer this service to the 1.8 million people living here, save that petrol money and entertain the kids close by. Mitchells Plain has so much potential and we truly wanted something for our own community, we could have easily opened shop in any other area but this was much closer to our heart.
Have you had any complaints?
The only complaints that we had was that we should operate later and that we are in need of an aircon. In all honesty, an industrial aircon for that space costs R 120 000. With all the unexpected costs we incurred, it was simply not affordable, we do plan on putting up wall fans and extending the trade hours Fridays and Saturdays from February 2019.
Have there been any injuries?
Why have you chosen the specific price point per hour?
“Well, before opening we had a business analyst who assisted us with the business plans, project the financials. We selected a cost that was reasonable to cover all overheads, expenses and rental.
We realised that it was a bit pricy and have taken a decision to reduce this price. We find that the less it is the more people will come. We are new to retail, we are learning and we are listening to feedback constructively.”
Anything you want to tell our readers?
This place was built with passion, a place the kids can really have fun, learn through play, and be creative and always wanting to come back. It’s also a place where you can catch up with your friend, sister or mom over a cup of coffee and actually eat in peace while our monitors takes care of the kids. We have so much things planned for this park to make it exciting for years to come…
We already hosted our first “Kids night out parents night off” last week and it was a major success. The kids wants another one and the parents are just as keen. We plan on hosting one once a month!
We will be having Aftercare and Holiday care facilities in the near future as well.
We have extra mural activities (registrations are open) for Hip Hop dance classes, Cooking Classes and Art Classes. Another initiative to keep kids entertained, boost confidence and creating a fun, stimulating environment where they can truly express themselves and have fun.
We find that extra mural activities are only offered in affluent areas – well, now kids in Mitchells Plain can have that opportunity as well!