As birthday parties, play dates and other small gatherings make their return, Long Island families are discovering a new family-friendly play place in Syosset.
The new Kiddie Clubhouse — a play space with a jungle gym, group classes and party area — opened earlier this year and is, after a few months, finally starting to see an uptick in business as Long Island reopens.
"We do have a lot of recurring clients that visit us frequently, but it's still an activity-based business that not everyone is fully comfortable with yet," says owner Morgan Alonso, 39, a mother of three boys.
"We have to keep our class sizes small still," she says, adding that while some days are busier than others, the levels of what she would consider a "normal" amount of business have yet hit. "It's what we were expecting. But we're hoping by late spring, early summer more people know we are here and are ready and willing to throw their parties with us."
Alonso, of Glen Cove, also notes, "We do have many customers tell us that they missed their kids' birthday parties last year and don't want to do it again."
The chance to open the Clubhouse first came to Alonso last year when the former family play spot Momo’s Clubhouse closed down. Alonso’s husband was already running a wholesale kids shoe business next door (Long Island Shoe Company) and was looking to use the empty zone to open a retail kids shoe store. But the expansion into the neighboring space included purchasing the jungle gym once used at Momo’s, giving the Alonsos the chance to open a play space of their own, right next door to their footwear venture.
Alonso says she and her spouse "kind of fell into this business," but that didn’t stop her from attempting to create something unique for birthday parties.
"I really try to tailor the parties so they are not all the same old ‘party place party.’" Parties include themed paper products, balloons, and a gift for every birthday child.
Classes have also been added to the offerings, such as a weekly "Toddler Time" session that includes book readings, craft making and open play and an hourlong "Music & More" class that features a music program paired with various instruments, followed by play.
The latest addition is a 90-minute "Parents' Best Friend Drop off" class on Thursday mornings, intended to give a break to run errands or just relax. Aside from her staff members, Alonso is also currently there at all times, along with her youngest son, age six months, who she jokes is her "’little mascot" at the Clubhouse. Her seven and five-year-old boys come by on weekends.
Alonso adds that while it may seem "a little crazy to open a social business during the pandemic with a newborn," she had always thought it would be "such a fun and rewarding business to have while my kids were young. And then it just all sort of fell into place."
COVID restrictions are in place at The Kiddie Clubhouse, including cleaning of the entire shared portions of the facility before every party and class. Mask-wearing and temperature taking in enforced. Socks are required. A new air filtration system has also been installed.
The Kiddie Clubhouse: 140 Eileen Way, Suite 250, Syosset; 516-800-0906, thekiddieclubhouse.com. The Kiddie Clubhouse is open for play every Monday- Friday for two open play sessions a day. Evenings, Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for birthday parties and private events. Open play is $16 for "walkers" and $12 for "crawlers." Membership plans are available for $100 per month.