Perk and Play: A Place for Coffee and Kids

Perk and Play: A Place for Coffee and Kids 2After years as a non-coffee drinker, one change switched my status in an instant: parenthood.

I began to understand the addiction my parents always had for this aromatic beverage, and the low growls that were substituted for words before the first cup was sipped began making sense.

However, I quickly realized that someone up above has a dark sense of humor. As I began exploring the world of coffees, it became next to impossible to enjoy a local coffee shop with a newly walking toddler exploring a world of mischief.

Quaint bookshelves, filled magazine racks and artsy ceramic vases with flowers would have been welcome once upon a time. Now, however, they are simply magnets for my inquisitive ball of energy whose goal is to remove as many items from their original spots as a minute will allow. The idea of keeping him entertained in a coffeehouse while I try to enjoy a cup of java seemed exhausting just to imagine.

Then I found Perk and Play and my world has become a little more caffeinated.

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Kids appreciate this coffee shop as much as Mom and Dad.

The moment we opened the door to the shop, my little guy’s eyes widened at the colorful play area open to him. In the two corners closest to the entryway, toys galore filled shelves and were set up for easy access. Two children were already deep in play, making the place that much more attractive to my son.

While much of the coffee shop appears “adult-themed” with trendy red hanging lights, overstuffed sofas and café tables, there are subtle accents bringing childhood into the mix. The vibrant paintings on the wall are from kid-inspired art, and one of the central café tables has a glossy yellow surface, with a spattering of hand prints preserved in bright paint across the top.

In a quick scan of the room, a mom can’t miss the lack of usual child-endangering items. Corners are rounded, condiments are kept high and out of reach, no electrical cords snake out of or along the walls, and the cork floors are much gentler on little foreheads when missteps or tumbles are taken.

Opened earlier this year in northeast Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood, owners Margo and Jonathan Zonca, the parents of three boys, were aware of the need for a kid-friendly environment where adults can still be adults. They also understood the need to make it as safe as possible for the children.

In addition to the obvious childproofing, Perk and Play is painted with the eco-friendly “Aura” brand, the wooden blocks and other toys strewn about are painted in the U.S. to ensure lead-free fun, and the cleaning sprays used are non-toxic products. The philosophy at this coffeehouse is to “do least harm” to the environment.

This philosophy extends past the décor and toys. Organic coffees and teas are offered, local suppliers are used, and even the eggs used in the crepes are from animals raised cage-free and hormone-free.

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Of course, in a child-friendly environment, the kids aren’t forgotten at the snack bar. Cheese sticks, fruit, juices and snack puddings are among items displayed behind the glass intermixed with cranberry-orange muffins and chocolate croissants.

Now when I need a caffeine fix, I head for the warm sanctuary of Perk and Play. While my son climbs in, over and through the colorful wooden school bus in the corner and wears himself out, I relax at the table, sipping a cup of joe and re-energizing myself.

If You Go

Sheri L. Thompson is managing editor of

From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.