Food & Drink

Grow Cafe, Charlotte’s First Coffee Shop for Parents, Set to Open in Highland Creek

New play cafe will offer children's programming, play sessions and storytelling

The owners pose for a photo in front of Grow Cafe
Stacy and Michael Baker will open Grow Cafe in the Highland Creek area in mid-July. (Photo by Morgan Robinson)

A new “play cafe” that will cater to parents of young children is set to open next month in the Highland Creek area of northeast Charlotte. 

Grow Cafe, a Black- and family-owned play cafe that caters to parents and children aged 0 to 6, will open in mid-July at 5324 Docia Crossing Road, Suite B, in a shopping center anchored by Cinergy Dine-In Cinemas. 

Stacy and Michael Baker, a married couple with children who live in the Highland Creek area, will own Grow Cafe, partnering with Enderly Coffee to supply beverages and baked goods. 

The business is the brainchild of Stacy, who has spent over a decade working with youth nonprofits and advocacy groups. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Clemson University and ruminated over the idea for years before finally striking out to open Grow Cafe. 

“This is something that I’ve been trying to figure out and find out what the vision was,” she told Queen City Nerve. “I had this vision the first time in 2017 and I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew it was a space that families and children could thrive.”

Grow Cafe will offer traditional coffee items such as espressos, lattes and baked goods in an environment geared toward children, with an innovative play space that includes both fun and educational equipment. The site will also offer various activities in an effort to allow parents to better engage and interact with their children.

The activities, which Baker said they hope to host at least four times a week, will range from Mommy and Me Yoga, arts and crafts classes, music workshops, and reading sessions featuring local children’s authors. 

“Grow Café would help to fill the void for a much-needed family-friendly space for minority families. Parents and caregivers will be able to observe their young children have fun learning, while also being able to fulfill their own mental and emotional needs,” said Renee Johnson, District 4 Charlotte City Council rep, in a release announcing the upcoming opening. “Through connecting families, the Grow Café can also help foster valuable and hopefully lifelong relationships across neighbors in our communities. Stacy has also committed to utilize Grow Café as a space to provide community outreach through workshops, resource drives and informational conversations.”

Read more: Nooze Hounds: Charlotte City Council Rep Reneé Johnson

Stacy’s original business idea looked more like a traditional daycare, but she soon realized that route didn’t suit her vision. Baker put the idea on hold while she got married and had children, but just as she was ready to revisit her dream of opening a new business in 2020, COVID-19 forced another pause. 

Despite the unfortunate turn of events, gaining more experience as a parent eventually helped Stacy solidify her plan for a play cafe rather than your run-of-the-mill daycare. 

Painfully aware of the lack of options in Charlotte, Stacy was inspired by play cafes in surrounding areas such as Pineville (Unwind Indoor Play Cafe), Monroe (Playland Indoor Playground + Café), and Concord (The Playroom Social). Having regularly traversed more than 45 minutes to reach such a venue, the Bakers wanted something local. 

 “We made preparations, packed a bag, took our girls out there, and sometimes they’re like, ‘Oh, we don’t have any reservations available right now,’” she said. 

Grow Cafe will be located at 5324 Docia Crossing Road, Suite B. (Photo by Morgan Robinson)

The isolating effect of the pandemic on both parents and children was another motivator for the Bakers, whose 4-year-old daughter is what many would consider a “pandemic baby.” The couple faced many challenges trying to socialize their daughter when the time came. 

 “When it got time to socialize her, it was a struggle,” she said. “She was only comfortable with us, the people she was in the house with for the last few years. Our children are lacking socialization skills. Parenthood has become such an isolating thing, and that’s something that I really struggled with after having both my girls.

“I didn’t want to be a burden,” she continued. “I didn’t want to be a burden if friends invited me to coffee. So what could I do as a mom? And so my friendships really became more telephone[-based], and it wasn’t in person. I was in a space of isolation, and I wanted to really see how I could help resolve that.”

Ultimately, Baker said she wanted to assuage the concerns of anxious parents and provide them a safe space to just be a parent.

Grow Cafe will be open to the public, though timed “play sessions” will have a cost. A VIP Membership program will offer perks such as free play sessions on weekdays, discounts on weekends, and 15% off private party bookings. 

Families with one child over six months can purchase a membership for $80, while membership for families with two or more children will cost $150. 

The Bakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising $30,000 to help grow the cafe. For more information, visit the website.

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