FAQ - Outside Food Policy

Q: Why can’t I bring in my own food for my children to eat at PlayHappy Café?

A:  As you might be able to imagine, having a business that deals with kids, parents, food, coffee, cleanliness, safety, fatal nut allergies, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, diabetes, autism, etc. we've got to have some rules. PlayHappy Cafe, like hundreds of other indoor play centers/cafes has a strict No Outside Food policy. We now have signs up on most tables in the cafe, as well as our front door, the reception desk and the play area and we tell each and every person coming in for the first time about our no outside food rule. Despite this, some visitors have continued to bring in outside food (including a jar of peanut butter!! and a bag of mixed nuts!!!) and we are approaching them and kindly yet firmly letting them know about our no outside food policy. Most have been understanding and put their outside food away.

The outside food issue is a serious matter, so please allow me to explain from the perspective as a small business owner as well as a parent of young kids on the importance of this matter.

As PlayHappy Cafe is under permit with the Snohomish County Health District as a food service establishment (like any licensed restaurant or café), all food must be from an approved source. Home kitchens are not an approved source. It's due to Washington State Retail Food Code 3-201.11. If someone brings in outside food to our (licensed) food establishment and gets sick, PlayHappy Café could be liable. We have a strict no outside food policy. The only outside items we allow are packaged pureed baby food, formula, breast milk and water in your own personal container / sippy cup.

PlayHappy Cafe strives to be nut-free and only order items that do not contain tree nuts nor peanuts for our cafe. Approximately 8% of children have some kind of allergy. While some food allergies (ie gluten, dairy, soy.) can make a child mildly to seriously sick, nut allergies can be fatal within minutes. As many of our little visitors are new eaters, their parents may not yet know that they have a nut allergy and may not have an epi pen on them to keep their child from going into anaphylactic shock before paramedics arrive. We don't ever want that to occur at PlayHappy Café so we need to do our best to control ALL food and beverages in our facility. We don't want to be the snack police and have to check everyone's outside snacks to ensure there are no nuts. We also don't want to check to see if outside coffee drinks contain hazelnut or other nut syrups or almond milk. We're sorry to be so dramatic about the nut issue, but it is a serious one and another reason why outside food is not allowed at PlayHappy Café.

Here is an informative blog post that talks about the dangers of nut allergies: www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2013/09/this-is-what-it-looks-like-when-your-kid-has-a-nut-allergy/

Also, please feel free to read a discussion we had on our Facebook page with many of our customers: www.facebook.com/PlayhappyCafe/posts/543716619010768

As parents of young kids, we understand that it's necessary to have some emergency snacks in a diaper bag or car as toddlers tend to graze all day and get cranky if they're hungry. We also understand and respect that for medical reasons, some children need to eat specific foods at certain times. We just ask that when you are inside PlayHappy Café, you not take your food out of your bag. You are free to consume them outside of our premises. You can purchase food from our café and enjoy it in our café seating area or eat your own food at home or car before/after your visit. You can also visit and play for a bit, leave and eat a meal elsewhere or at home, and return later in the day for no extra charge. Just let us know, so we can give you a stamp for re-admission. You're not required to purchase food or drink during your visit... and you can just come to play. We have several regulars who understand our policy and are happy to go to their car to have their snack and return to play. If our policy doesn’t work for you or your children for medical reasons, please come up to our reception desk and ask to speak with our management team, so we can discuss the issue and try to work out a mutually satisfactory solution.

PlayHappy Cafe is a business and serves a variety of food and snacks appropriate for babies, toddlers and preschoolers as THAT IS HALF OUR CLIENTELE. Our menu is specifically designed for little ones and their favorite grown-ups. Our Cafe Menu was designed by someone who has a BS in Nutition from Bastyr University and previously worked at Whole Foods and was a chef at Bright Horizons. fyi, we order from the same food distributor as Whole Foods. We have many affordable toddler snacks (Cheerios, Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, Bunny Graham Crackers, fruit roll ups, fruit cups, apple sauce, string cheese etc.) and we're doing our best to have options for sensitive diets. We have gluten free Wow cookies, Gluten and Dairy free cookies from Dancing Women. Also gluten free all natural tortilla chips. We have Vegetarian and Vegan options as well ie. a Vegan wrap, a seasonal Quinoa salad and Vegan donuts from Mighty O. We also carry Happy Baby organic pureed baby food and Happy Puffs. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll do our best to make it happen. We also have ingredient lists for most of our food options for your review.

So, there is no need for you to bring food for your children to our play cafe business which was partly built to feed children! Same as you wouldn't bring pizza into a pizzeria, please don't bring outside food into our family-focused cafe! 

PlayHappy Cafe was ranked Top 3 Best Kids Menu in the 2014 King 5 TV Best of Western Washington awards! We were ranked after Red Robin and Old Spaghetti Factory and proud of our ranking as a relatively new small business and we're glad that many people like what we're offering!=) 

We know there aren't many play cafes in this area (Chicago area has about 10), but this is a standard policy. In our area, Tot Spot Café had a no outside food policy as does Twirl Café, Chuck E Cheese and Elevated Sportz. Other restaurants may not enforce the health code, but We do, due to the issues described above. Combining an indoor play space + a café can get tricky and we know it will take time for everyone to understand the concept and why it's important not to bring in outside food. Our food policy allows us to better control the food being consumed in PlayHappy Cafe and ensure our premise is a healthy and safe environment for your family, as well as those who suffer with severe nut allergies.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.