By Kelly Youngblood
A local woman is opening a new business in St. Joe that will give children a place to play and parents a space to relax.
The Play Day Cafe will open this June at 211 East Lincoln St., where Modern Concepts Furniture is currently located.
Ashley Sjuts, 33, is a mom, former nanny, and the entrepreneur behind the business. She currently lives in Thomasboro but grew up in St. Joe and says the town really needed a place like this.
“I’m part of a mother’s group in St. Joe and it meets every other Thursday and the moms are desperate to get there so their kids can play together and they can just sit for a minute and have an adult conversation,” Sjuts said.
Sjuts worked as a nanny in New York and Germany before returning home and starting her family. She said there were “all kinds of places” in New York that offered places for children and parents to go hang out but quickly realized options were limited in this area.
“Each business would have one area where your kid could play but nowhere for my husband and I to sit and relax while she played,” she said. “I found myself going to the Art Mart so that (my daughter) could play with the train table.”
Sjuts is hoping The Play Day Cafe will help fill a void in St. Joe and surrounding communities. The space will offer an “intimate feel” with separate play areas including blocks, people, trains, vehicles, housekeeping, and a workshop.
There will also be an area to encourage motor skills with tumbling mats, balance boards, rockers and stilts.
While the play areas are targeted for children 0-6 years old, there will be activities for older children to enjoy including art projects she said.
Sjuts is working with a child therapist and children’s occupational therapist to create a sensory sensitivity time to be held once a month. She’s also planning to offer a Spanish open playtime where native Spanish speakers will be on site to interact with the children in Spanish.
Enrichment classes will be offered for children and birthday party packages will be available as well.
With a tagline like, “Adulting is hard, getting out with kids shouldn’t be,” Sjuts hopes The Play Day Cafe will encourage parents and caregivers to come in and enjoy coffee and conversation while their kids play.
“My mission is to give them a space to come and relax,” Sjuts said.
The cost to play for the day is $8 for the first child and $5 for each additional child. Children 10 and older get in for free. Memberships and punch cards will also be available to purchase.
Hours will be Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.