I had a chance to chat with Marissa Lapierre, the co-owner of the Cotton Tale Café + Play. I have personally taken my children to their place multiple times and they always have so much fun! We love the atmosphere and the food, everything is always really warm and inviting. If you’re someone who is working from home, this is a great spot to come. You can sit, enjoy your coffee in (mostly) peace and get some work done without having to worry about keeping your children entertained.
With Covid, we haven’t had a chance to visit so this was the perfect opportunity to make a special trip. I really wanted to get some photos to add to this post. So the girls were able to hang out, play, eat snacks for the morning while the baby had a fantastic nap.
“My name is Marissa LaPierre. My mother, Wendy LaPierre and I opened Cotton Tale Café + Play in September 2015. We love coffee (we have so many amazing local roasters) and when my oldest child was young, I found it very difficult to meet friends at a coffee shop with a toddler that wanted to crawl around on the ground. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be so great to have a space where people could get together, eat healthy homemade food, drink coffee and have the kids play? An important part of this plan will be ‘no shoes!”
I finally had the time and headspace to open this business when my youngest of three was 18 months old. My husband is a teacher and his schedule pairs perfectly with the rhythms of the business. I have had many people tell me how Cotton Tale Cafe feels like home and that was such an important element to me.
I have a fine arts background and have taught art, programmed workshops, and had a mini business creating children’s toys made from felted wool. All of these played a role in the design of Cotton Tale Cafe. When my own children were young, they were primarily surrounded by wooden toys and anything that encouraged creative play. That is also my hope for Cotton Tale, but it’s a tricky balance of having wooden toys and seeing them stand up to commercial use and frequent sanitization.
Having 1/2 of the space be focused on the food and drinks and 1/2 of the space be focused on play was an important part of the original concept. The space is just as much for the adults and fostering community as is it for the children.”
During the past 6 years, Cotton Tale Cafe has introduced many activities such as birthday parties, our After School Program, summer camps, yoga, “Ask an Expert” coffee chats, paint nights, fitness classes, storytime, kinder music, Christmas markets, community sidewalk sales, community workshops, children’s performances, and a School Readiness Program besides our regular Drop-in Play where parents can drink great coffee and feed their kids healthy snacks and lunches.
We have worked hard to come up with a menu that has variety and great taste and we receive many compliments! Our grilled cheese plate and Rainbow Plate are our most popular kids’ meals. Our chilli and kale beet salad are items for which we are frequently asked the recipe. (My own favourite thing to eat is the sweet potato, kale pizza.) Because we make virtually everything from scratch, we are able to modify our menu to suit many dietary needs. For instance, our bread for panini, our chilli, samosas, and many of our baked goods are vegan. We also offer Daiya as a vegan cheese substitute. Many of our baked goods are also vegan and gluten-free.
In the past, we have carried Hape toys. Our toy section is undergoing a bit of a change since the exchange rate and shipping costs have gone up significantly. I am now looking for local toymakers who are interested in selling their products. We love selling books by a Nova Scotian publishing company and supporting authors from around the Maritimes.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made a significant impact on what is happening at Cotton Tale Cafe these days. Drop-in play, our cafe with appropriate social distancing, birthday parties, and our After School Program are the only activities we are able to run right now. We are open Monday-Friday 9:00-2:00 and Saturdays 9:00-5:00 for our regular “drop-in play”. The cost is $7 per child over the age of 1. We close at 2:00 on Monday-Friday, so we can clean and make room for the after-school program.
Cotton Tale Café + Play is currently for sale. I have loved this business with a passion. Since my children are getting older, I am looking for the next owners to pass it onto. Our website is www.cottontale.ca, or you can look us up on our Facebook page. We are located at 9185 Commercial Street, New Minas, Nova Scotia.”
I hope that the new owners have the same passion as Marissa and Wendy have had. Whoever buys Cotton Tale Cafe is going to have a ready-made business that has regular clients and tons of possibilities. I wish them both all the best in their future endeavours!!
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