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Discover the Soft Play Café Taking Gosforth High Street By Storm

Hopscotch, The New Soft Play Café In Gosforth
April 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

It has everything you need for a great day out with the kids - and then some!

Living North catches up with Cyrenne Khaliq-Fleming, owner of the popular soft play café Hopscotch, which is making a name for itself on Gosforth's High Street.

With a sleek design, cosy café and a well-stocked bar, the latest addition to Gosforth’s High Street has put itself firmly on the map with local parents. Cyrenne tells us about the journey to creating Hopscotch.

‘I’m originally from the North East and my family are involved in leisure and hospitality up here. I moved to London after uni and was there for 14 years working in finance, I’ve had three kids and moved back,’ she tells us. ‘I’ve got three under eight now, and just noticed there was a bit of a gap in the market. Having lived in London, there’s quite a lot of these play cafés and other stuff for kids, but I noticed you have to travel to find them here, and particularly there wasn’t much in the city centre.’

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Cyrenne took it upon herself to fill this gap. ‘A unit came up on Gosforth High Street and I thought it would be a good idea to set something up. I spent a lot of time at soft plays, so I had an idea of what people like and don’t like,’ she explains. ‘So basically Hopscotch is like a boutique-style soft play. I just wanted to set up somewhere where adults can enjoy it as well as the kids.’ Plenty of thought and preparation went into making the interior as stylish and pleasant as possible. ‘We used a company called Tigerplay. They just do a really good job,’ she explains. ‘We completely rebuilt the unit that we’d bought which was once a bank. We used a neutral palette so that it was nice to sit in while the kids are running around. In terms of the café itself, we set it out really stylishly and we offer really good cakes and coffee. We use all local suppliers, so our coffee is from Morpeth, our cakes are made in-house or from a few local suppliers. We offer full breakfast, brunch, lunch and a grazing menu for kids and adults, and then we have a bar.’

A bar in a soft play may sound surprising to some, but made complete sense for Cyrenne and her vision for what Hopscotch could be for parents. ‘It’s an added bonus,’ she explains. ‘If you want to have a glass of wine on a Friday lunchtime you can. People are very sensible about it and it’s just like any other restaurant really, we offer alcohol but yes we’ve got a great play area too.’

Cyrenne and the team at Hopscotch have been overwhelmed by the positive reception to the soft play. ‘I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect so it was a bit nerve-racking,’ she says. ‘From the start, it’s been nonstop trying to keep up with everything. We’re doing all kinds of seasonal events too. So we did a Halloween party, Santa was here at Christmas, and we’ve got Peter Rabbit coming for Easter.’ When it comes to events, Hopscotch goes above and beyond your typical soft play. ‘We do adult-focused events where you bring your kids, so we had a steak night with the family and we’ve got a Valentine’s Day date night where you can have a date night but you can bring your kids,’ she says. ‘Then we’ve got purely adult events where we do it later at night. We’re trying to do partnerships with local businesses as well, because the bar area and the café are quite nice anyway. You can come here without kids and have an event and not notice the play area in the back. It’s not like you have to close it off or anything. We’re definitely going to try to do more evening events and more family Friday night events like film nights. The possibilities are endless.’

The space was made with older kids in mind too. ‘The soft play is aimed at preschoolers, but we’ve also got areas for older kids,’ Cyrenne says. ‘We’ve got a reading den, we’ve got a blackboard area, we’ve got a retro arcade machine with all of the old-school games on it like Pac-Man which actually the dads prefer more than the older kids – you’ll often find the dads up in there. Then we’ve got outdoor space that we’ve converted, we’ve got fake grass down and we’ve got a little shop and a house out there with a mud kitchen. So in the summer that will be popular, it’s a real suntrap out there too.’

Since opening in September 2023, the business is off to a roaring start and Cyrenne plans to consolidate this success. ‘I think it’s still early days and I’m still catching up with trying to get processes and operations streamlined, so I think for the next few months it’s all about that for me,’ she explains. ‘We have had a lot of requests to open elsewhere and that is something that we’ll look at as well, probably later in the year once everything is settled here. It’s just been so busy and I think when you’re in your first year and you’ve got things like the Easter event which we haven’t had yet, we’re still trying to work that out and focus on that so we can get it right rather than rushing it. I think I want to get this all running to a tee, and then move on to maybe look at opening something else.’

Quick-Fire Questions

What is something you couldn’t live without?
My trainers because I like to go for a run to clear my head.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Go with your gut. We bought the unit and were unsure about it, whether to rent it out to a local restaurant or not. I always had this play café idea in the back of my head. If you think something is going to work then just go with it.

Your favourite local spot?
I’m a big fan of the Town Moor just because of the running space. It’s a nice, open space to go with the kids and it’s a little bonus to have in the city.

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