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Long Awaited Indoor-Outdoor Family “Play Cafe” Opens on Jackson Avenue

Jan. 4, 2017 Staff Report

Long Island City’s flourishing population of young families may have a new reason to celebrate the new year.

City Owlets, a children’s playspace and cafe at 10-42 Jackson Ave, is hosting a grand opening week for parents and guardians who would like to register their kids for play sessions at the multi-roomed space.

City Owlets founder Linda Nguyen

From January 3rd to January 6th, parents or guardians can bring their children to any one of four “mommy and me” type sessions held each day, which include story time, arts & crafts, singing and dancing.

The sessions are each two hours and take place in one of many different themed “nooks” at the play cafe, the first of which begins at 9:00 am and the last one ending at 5:00 pm. Registration can be made here. Each session is capped at 20 children.

City Owlets founder and Long Island City resident, Linda Nguyen, began work on opening the space two and a half years ago, when she saw the demand for such a concept grow among young families in the community.

“You want to have a place where you can have a cup of coffee, bring your kids, and let them have fun without the weight of worry on your shoulders,” said Linda, who is a mother herself.

Nguyen said she had seen similar concepts struggle in other states, but still wanted to bring it to Queens.

“As an idea for an indoor playcafe serving children and adults, it has been rejected, scoffed at and blatantly told the business model isn’t worthy of time and space,” she shared. “But we believe in the value we would add to the community. We want to give parents and caregivers a space to connect with each other and a platform to learn about navigating the waters of parenthood.”

In addition to serving as a playspace, City Owlets also plans to host educational classes on parenthood, such as “Daddy Bootcamp, Sibling Prep, Strollers and Carseats 101,” as well as assistance with post-partum depression.

Children help create community mural

The playcafe will be a part of the COFFEED Affiliate Program, serving coffee brewed locally in Long Island City.

“COFFEED is super proud to be able to serve our fine beans at City Owlet, and we are certain it will become a hub for families in Long Island City and beyond,” said COFFEED CEO Frank Raffaele.

City Owlets hosted a week long mural painting event in October to help decorate its outdoor playspace, with the help of Efren Andaluz, a New York based artist who recently painted a mural on the outdoor wall of Jackson’s Eatery and Bar facing 50th Ave.

“We had close to 500 parents, guardians, teachers and their children come to participate that week,” Nguyen said. Organizations that attended or volunteered included the Gantry Parent Association, Hunters Point Civic Association, Court Square Library, Lolly’s Early Learning Center, Busy Bee Playcare, and My Treehouse Daycare.

Beginning January 9th, drop-in play hours for parents and their children will be available Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, then on weekends from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. The center will be closed for the remainder of the week for private parties, which can be reserved here.

Parents who wish to reserve drop-in hours will receive discounted rates when registering for any of the sessions during the grand opening week. Anyone with questions is asked to call 718-786-6957.

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Note: City Owlets is an advertiser of the LIC Post.

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It’s a good add to the community.. would you rather have another real estate office, burger shop, nail salon? No need to be so dramatic/judgmental and make accusations of helicopter parenting.. its a play gym that sells snacks and coffee. I don’t see a problem with it.

Having said that, I’m a parent of toddlers and I don’t see myself taking my kids there as the value/cost doesn’t really work for me. It’s a very personal decision because my kids play well at home and do plenty of pretend play. We allow them to participate in social events at NYKC and LIC Kids and that’s a good balance for them.

Although it’s not a place that is useful for my family, I can see it being useful for others that need to get the kids out of the home, change of scene, etc.

Bottom line: Each family is different and each kid is different.


Nothing brings communities together like warm and fuzzy vertical integration and helicopter parenting

In the hood? Oh brother.


Nothing brings a community together like warm and fuzzy armchair trolls who think they know everything and make snotty, negative comments on community news sites. Helicopter parents? Please. Parents involved with their toddlers is a good thing, not a bad thing. These are little kids we are talking about. Oh brother is right.


Kids, in cities or wherever, used to be free to deal with their boredom and develop creativity, until know-it-all yuppie parents decided that leaving their children alone to fend for themselves without their constant vigilant attention is the way to go. Sure, the new approach is great for parents, who get to hang out in bars and coffee shops while go along with the pretense, always reinforced by profit makers, that they are doing the best things for their kids by getting up their ass every minute of the day. Bullshit. We’re raising a generation of overprotected, fragile ADHD nervous wrecks who were never allowed to grow as we’ve evolved.


I am not against parenting, nor against children, nor am I a troll or own an armchair. I am against using children and parents to sell coffee (like there isn’t enough coffee in this unaffordable ass city), which is what this is.


You should do your research before you spew judgemental nonsense. The place doesn’t appear to sell enough coffee for it to be a profitable revenue stream. Any person who is remotely knowledgeable when it comes to business would be able to make that distinction. Coffee and snacks are just an added convenience for parents and kids. The cafe portion is a place for the kids to eat snacks THEY BRING FROM HOME or buy at the playspace. If you don’t know what this is, don’t come off so arrogant, because in the end, you are more ignorant than anything else.


I live in LIC, have a small toddler, and LOVE this concept. We played at City Owlets twice this week and it was fun for me and my little one! She had a blast making new friends and discovering new things to do. And I totally enjoyed grabbing a coffee and having an area we could snack. Thrilled to have this family-friendly addition in the hood!


No normal kid ever had fun playing while their anxious parent was two feet away breathing down their necks. Poor kids today. I kind of feel sorry for them that they have to get herded by adults to some business to have FUN.

ginger the pirate

Mom or dad drinks coffee with other parents, kids learn how to socialize and play well with others. I’m failing to see the problem.


It’s a business, so the word that applies here is “liability”. There are public parks for the type of play you insist is best in all circumstances considered.


Poor kids? Your comment is unnecessarily judgmental, pretentious and ridiculous. First off, this isn’t Ct. or NJ. These kids don’t have back yards or woods to run around in. Second, I am guessing that this is mostly for younger kids in which case it is good to have mom or dad present or the nanny present and involved. Do you think it is for teenagers? 3rd, imagine you are a nanny. It is raining or it is 20 degrees outside. Where do you bring a kid, who is full of energy, in LIC? Personally, I think it is a tough concept 365 days a year. We have wonderful parks for sunny days. I think there needs to be an outdoor component to it and the food needs to be a draw rather than an afterthought.


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