By Brittany Wiley
Michelle Bryant-Smith and her husband Maurice Smith opened Little Hoppers Play Café, 2670 W 111th St., in August. It’s an interactive and creative boutique style play space for kids age seven and under and a café for families.
The idea for the Play Café was birthed out of Bryant-Smith’s frustration as a new mom and the lack of family-focused offerings on the South Side. Most of the classes and activities that she found were located on the North Side or in the suburbs. After spending so much time in traffic, she “set out on a mission to find infant and kid activities on the South Side.” The lack of choices was disappointing, so she set out to create something herself.
The open play space features playsets that are engineered to help with cognitive, developmental, and social advancement for infants and toddlers. Children age two years and over get to participate in active play that allows them to use their imaginations, practice their social skills, and move their bodies.
Parents can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the café, where they can choose from a variety of refreshments. They can sip on coffee roasted in Chicago from a local vendor, which is female owned. Or you can choose a smoothie, snacks or ice cream.
Bryant-Smith is focused on creating an “environment of community, fun, learning, compassion, and warmth.”
It will be more than just a play space, but also a haven for parents. Bryant-Smith struggled with infertility and got through a difficult time in her life by “joining a community of women with a wealth of information and resources.” She wants Little Hoppers to be that community for other parents. They will provide parent-child classes, yoga, STEM, and more to reinforce this mission.
Little Hoppers is intent on keeping their patrons safe. Cleaning and sanitizing will occur multiple times a day by staff and weekly by a professional. Between 12 and 1 p.m., they will close to disinfect all surfaces. They will limit the patrons and masks are required for everyone over the age of 2. Customers can also pre-book and pay online to limit interaction.
Bryant-Smith and Smith are dedicated to our community and families. They want to “create a convenient, inclusive, fun environment” and a safe space. And they have worked long and hard to make their vision a reality.
Visit Little Hoppers, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Learn more online at thelittlehoppers.com and follow their journey on social media @thelittlehoppers on Instagram or on Facebook at facebook.com/thelittlehoppersplaycafe.