Cafe openings, for parents, anyway, don’t come more awesome than this. The Milk Shed is the long-awaited North Street cafe for families of pre-school children.
I had a smile on my face from the moment we arrived. It’s clear that Amy and Holly, the brains and creative talent behind Milk Shed, have truly thought about what the parents of Bristol need, and they’ve made it happen.
The layout, quality of environment, types of entertainment and style shows that they understand what’s been missing since the closure of the area’s two popular parent hangouts, Bubbahub and Hungry Caterpillar.
The Milk Shed is your living room, with delicious coffee, high quality toys, friendly faces and importantly, someone to talk to.
Filled with sofas, cushions, rugs and comfort, this is a place for new mums to come and be themselves. I loved how the frontage of Milk Shed is more home than shop, providing a well lit environment but protecting guests who might be feeding their babies from feeling like a showroom exhibit.
There are two areas inside, a front ‘living room’ of sofas, toys and places to talk and listen, and a gated ‘playroom’ full of sensory toys, books and bright colours. This is where the little classes and join-in sessions will take place.
The counter area, where very tasty coffee and cake are served from, takes up minimal space and looks just right. There’s high chairs, bouncers and other ways to strap your baby in, should you need to.
In true Bristol parenting style, everybody watches other kids if a mum needs to make a loo dash or change a newborn nappy.
There’s a small space for buggies at the front, but I’d try to fold down if you can to make room for others, and there’s a gate to ensure no small feet can head for the door.
When we visited, it was all mums, all of whom were absolutely thrilled to have a place like this to come to. It was the first time in a long time where I actually felt like I’d had a conversation with people I hadn’t met before that meant something. As somebody who isn’t very good at making new friends, I really appreciated that.
A side note – it was inset day and there were a few school age children, like mine, having lots of fun with their siblings.
Holly led a lively singing session at the end of our time there, with some Makaton, and the kids loved it. There are big plans for Milk Shed, including weekend openings with father-led sessions, which I think is important, private party openings, and lots of groups.
If you have a newborn, a crawler or a cruiser, Milk Shed is a no brainer. If you’re a new mum of two under two, it’s an essential. I think a group of pre-schoolers would perhaps start to look quite large against the babies in what is fundamentally quite a small footprint of a place (not a criticism, just a fact, and we all know three year olds can need a bit of space to play).
This business deserves to succeed, and I am in admiration of Amy and Holly for going for it with such panache and intelligence. I will be a regular visitor.