NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano has your look at three new play places on Long Island: La La Land in Babylon, Play a la Mode in East Setauket and More Than Play in Seaford. Credit: Newsday/Drew Singh; Kendall Rodriguez

Inspired by her 10 years of traveling the Island as a babysitter and nanny, Rita Karapatakis, 26, has opened her own play cafe in East Setauket called Play a La Mode.

“I full-time nannied these two children that I love as if they’re my own,” she says about Quinn and Wesley, the now-toddlers she most recently watched for just over two years. “I discovered play cafes in general because the boy was in a reckless stage and I was researching a padded place for him to just go have fun,” she says, adding that because there were no nearby places, she decided to open her own, and make it "more upscale for parents to enjoy," too.

Play a La Mode opened in May and is a spacious play cafe where crawlers and kids up to 6 years old can let their creativity run in the shop’s makeshift village that features a cafe (Cafe Quinn), construction workshop (Wesley’s Workshop), both named after the children she babysat; a salon, farmers market, gym and school.

Josie Gonzales, 2, plays at Play a la Mode in...

Josie Gonzales, 2, plays at Play a la Mode in East Setauket on May 26. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

“This was a nice place where you don’t have to run after your kid,” says Kim Krupinski, of Ronkonkoma, who recently brought her 2½-year-old daughter to play. The space is ideal, she says, because “you can kind of relax and sit and talk” without losing sight of the kids while they run around.

In conjunction with the village, play areas are set up throughout the padded room where kids can pretend they’re camping, serve from a food truck, play with cars on a racetrack and explore climbers.

The new space offers 90-minute play sessions starting at $24 for crawlers and $28 for walkers; each additional sibling gets a 10% discount; adults, required to stay, and infants, are free. All bookings are done online; socks are required.

In addition to open play, Karapatakis offers private parties — starting at $600 for 10 children — and events, where she links up with local businesses to bring in Zumba, mixed martial arts and crafts as part of open play sessions.

A fridge outside the play area is stocked with prepackaged snacks (fruit pouches, apples, cheese sticks) and pizza Lunchables, yogurt, salad, overnight oats, ice cream and drinks for purchase. A small retail section features puzzles, ice cream sets, bracelets, chalk and more.


WHEN | WHERE Open daily at 10 a.m.; open play, party and event schedule varies; 254 Main St., East Setauket (find parking in the Old Schoolhouse Square lot)

COST $28 for walkers and $24 for crawlers; each additional sibling gets a 10% discount; adults and infants are free; memberships, valid for seven visits, are $126 for crawlers and $150 for walkers


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