Speaking from experience families want to socialise with friends in a setting that is familiar, local and that is laid back. They want better quality food and drinks and to also mix with mates who don't have kids. Whilst the big suburban venues with their big ol' play spaces have a place, we know many families want more intimate settings where their kids can be entertained.
We recently installed this inclusive play space for The Young Street Hotel in Carrington, Newcastle. Owner Luke, having his own young family, part of a growing number of Publican's recognising the wants and desired of families and that their patronage can mean a big boost to profits.
Tell us a little about your business.
The Young Street Hotel is a re-imagined local where the focus is on friends, family, and kids, but without feeling like a day care centre. Our modus operandi was to create multiple spaces where all demographics could feel comfortable without dominating others. Our motto across both of our venues is '18th birthday party in one corner, and an 80th in the other.'
What is your favourite childhood memory of going to a pub/club/restaurant/cafe that had a kids play area?
There weren't any in Scone! But, kids in those days basically had free range around all areas (accept the front bar) of most local watering holes. Mum would have her only (if you believe her) cigarette of the week, and we would drink fire engines, eat smiths chips, and gerneally make a nuisance of ourselves.
What made you decide to get a cubby house/play space for your business? What did you hope it might add?
I have three kids of my own and there is a paucity of venues that cater for them in the local area. Like most people our age (mid 30's) we spent our 20's going to nightclubs, whiskey bars, pubs, restaurants, etc. This was the thing we looked forward to the most and got us through the week. Then, once you have kids, it's as if society tells you to go to hell, just when you are often starting to make the most money in your life. Venues are only just starting to get their heads around this. It's a massive, largely untapped market. I like to call it 'the borderline alcoholic, over worked gen x/y gold mine' (I don't really, but I may start now!).
Why did you choose Castle and Cubby and how important was it to choose eco-friendly products?
I saw the job they did at Stomping Ground brewery in Melbourne and thought it would match up with the design and vibe we were trying to achieve here at Young Street. Though maccas carpark play grounds have their place, we wanted to have something that looked good visually to both adults and kids, and was more focussed on imagination based play. The eco credentials was a bonus!
What are your thoughts on whether investing in play areas is a viable business expense, for both upfront costs and potential long term revenue loss from reduced seating?
Having a kids area is pretty much the reason we signed the lease on this business. We looked for a long time to find a venue for that purpose alone. Honestly though, they aren't suitable for everywhere. One of the best parts about our venue is the sectioned off areas. We can have a 100 kids out the back and no-one in the front bar would no about it. Just as we could have a 100 drinkers watching loud sports in the front bar and equally not effect the families in the back area.
Has there been any new clientele that you have tapped into as a result of adding the play space? Has it changed your client demographic at all?
It has given people a reason to come here. It has opened us up o a massive amount of people who are desperately motivated to go and have a drink and a meal out and feel like they ae part of society. I have seen an immediate impact on our trade.
What is one of your favourite feedback comments from your clients?
Very difficult to specify, and I don't want to be over dramatic here, but, you can just see the genuine gratitude in peoples eyes that they have actually been thought of. And not just thought of, they've been FOCUSED on. They know how much time, effort, and dedication has been put into catering for them. Love your customer, and they will love you back. Then you can make money as they will come back again and again because they know you're truly dedicated to them having a good time. Which is the often forgotten reason we are in the business at all. Making customers happy.