Lidia’s Play Café isn’t your typical café or kids playground — it’s a combination of both.
Owners Andrei Danetiu and his wife, Loredana, opened the doors to the café — located at 7106 Fresh Pond Rd. in Ridgewood — for the first time in April of 2019. The longtime Ridgewood residents were inspired to create the space by their 5-year-old daughter, Lidia.
“We thought about this business a while back, but the neighborhood was already saturated with coffee shops,” Danetiu said. “We knew we needed something different.”
The family-owned and operated business accommodates people like them, people who love cafés and the feel of being in an intimate space, but have small children (with ages that range from newborns to 6-year-olds) that also need a safe place to play.
That’s where the spacious, minimalist and polished café — complete with light brown wooden accents and a pastel color palette — comes in.
With more than 2,000 square feet in total, Lidia’s Play Café is divided into two rooms. The main area is for the café where they have a robust menu, including sandwiches and salads from $5.50 to $8.50, fresh-squeezed juices for $5, and tea and coffee from $2.75 to $4.25.
They also have a kids menu, “Kids Corner,” with offerings like grilled cheese for $4.50, avocado toast for $4, as well as other sandwiches like their hummus and tomato sandwich for $4.
Right next to the counter is their main play zone. But, since “little fingers touch the floor,” as their sign on the small wooden gate reads, shoes are left on the wooden shoe rack.
When inside, children can play with a variety of toys, some of which Danetiu said are imported from Germany, Spain and Russia.
They have two simple and neat play zones that are full of different kinds of toys, from trains to a large play house to a slide, which are mainly made of environmentally friendly wood.
When designing the very cozy and developmentally inclined space, the Danetiu’s made sure to use the Montessori method. The educational method is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.
“It’s a very much learning-oriented,” Danetiu said. “Everything is wood because it’s easier to sanitize and clean.”
Their logo, a colorful butterfly, represents childhood and spring.
Lidia’s Play Café even offers programs like mommy-and-me music classes with Julissa Esquilin and Zumbini (Zumba for babies).
They also provide party packages, where parents can rent the whole space for two hours and a half in order to throw a private birthday party or any other celebration with up to 15 children. They can choose between their Essential Package ($450), Popular Package ($600) and Extravagant Package ($950).
Their regular prices for daily play range by age and hour. For children ages 11 months and up, one hour is $10, two hours is $15 and a day pass is $20. Children between the ages of 4 to 10 months can play for one hour ($5) or two hours ($7.50), with a day pass available for $10.
Newborns to 3-month-olds can play for free with a purchase from the coffee bar by the parent or guardian.
They offer a 30 percent off each additional sibling for the children who are 11 months old and up. The fees are only applicable for the kids, therefore parents and guardians can join them for free.
Lidia’s Play Café was created to fill a void in the neighborhood the Danetius know and love.
Andrei and Loredana both grew up in Ridgewood. In fact, they lived on the same street, but met when they were young adults. They later decided to get married and are now raising Lidia in the same neighborhood.
Andrei and Loredana both quit their jobs in finance and a manager for a medical office, respectively, in order to bring this dream to life.
“There was definitely some adjustment … but we had a hunch it was needed because we live in the neighborhood and we saw families having a child and having nowhere to go, and something like this, we felt that it would be a hit,” Andrei said.
For them, customer service is the most important aspect of their services. As young parents, they know it makes a difference.
Lidia’s Play Cafe is open every day of the week, Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about Lidia’s Play Café, visit lidiasplaycafe.com or call 347-889-5001.