Debuting just a little more than a year ago, a cafe catering to mothers and their children has proven so popular it’s drawing more than 5,000 customers a month.
Satoshi Fujishiro, a 38-year-old father of three aged 4 to 10, opened Skip Kids in the Nishikasai district of Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, in June 2004 to serve mothers and their small kids — only.
He quit his salaried job to open the cafe, which has play facilities for kids adjacent to where their mothers can sit and eat with friends or drink wine or other spirits.
Skip Kids staff include nursery teachers licensed to care for toddlers and preschoolers. For their part, the kids run around, go down a slide and play house.
Explaining why he opened a cafe targeting a niche clientele, Fujishiro said, “It costs money for (mothers) to take their children to theme parks frequently.
“They can stay only a short time at family-style or fast-food restaurants because the children get tired of being there. I wanted to manage something (a theme park and a family restaurant) where mothers and children can enjoy themselves.”
His establishment’s reputation spread by word of mouth, and a week after it opened he found a long line of people waiting to get in.
The customers have continued to come in droves, including mothers driving in from neighboring Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures.
Makiko Kawakami, 30, who lives near Skip Kids, calls the cafe an “oasis of the mind.”
“My 3-year-old daughter enjoys (being here) because she is free to be noisy,” she said. “I can sit back and relax. . . . I have nothing to worry about since she is not too far from me and I can play with her, depending on how she feels.”
Kawakami has already visited the cafe more than 30 times, including for dinner when her husband works late.
Fujishiro said he received some complaints from people who thought he was a little too “restrictive” by allowing in only mothers and children.
But he said, “I dared to keep (the range of the business) narrow,” noting recent, unpardonable crimes committed by strangers against children.
Based on his own experience raising three kids, he voiced hope that mothers who visit his cafe can be free of stress.
Fujishiro was particular about preparing food centering on pasta and providing alcoholic beverages, noting he wanted to ease the child-rearing burden on mothers and help make their lives enjoyable at the same time.
Plans are under way to open franchise branches elsewhere in response to inquiries from people wishing to operate them.
Meanwhile, the Apple Mart convenience store chain based in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, opened mother-children only Kids Parlour cafes in Nishikasai and Nerima in March.
It said it plans to open more in Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures this year.
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