Marylebone is filled with cafes and restaurants, many of them great and some very trendy. But once you have a pram or a toddler in tow, life changes a bit. Sometimes it feels you are slightly less welcome. And if there are more than a few of you with prams and/or toddlers, the reception can get even more frosty. Many of the places for a much needed coffee are too small to be able to fit a few prams, and are definitely not big enough for a couple of toddlers who may be a bit squirmy.
I was disappointed to walk past the newly opened Bill's on Baker Street over the weekend and see prams left in the doorway, practically on the street, showing they have not sufficiently catered for families in the area even though it is a well-known kid-friendly chain.
Costa have opened a massive new branch on Baker Street near Portman Square. Its big and bright, with loads of child seats. Its never too busy unlike the one at 55 Baker St. It could be ideal for a coffee morning. Except to get into the shop there is a gigantic step and a big heavy door. Not the most welcoming entrance.
The recent budget cuts in Westminster mean that Micky Star is closing its drop-in sessions and becoming a nursery for 2+ year olds. This is of course great for those who get 2 year old funding for nursery, but for mums and carers in the area this is a big loss as it was a great place to take little ones from the early months, meet other mums, good play facilities etc. There are playgroups on certain days each week, some with long waiting lists, but the closing on Micky's is a massive hit as we lose one of the few places that was open every day.
Anyone who has friends in West London, Kensington etc will have heard the names Maggie and Rose, and Purple Dragon. You will also have heard or visited Gambardo (a slightly different concept). Marylebone NEEDS a family club or family cafe. We need somewhere that is open every day, especially during school holidays. We need somewhere where mums can meet others in a safe, welcoming, child-friendly environment. We need somewhere that could host activities and classes for children at different times of day in a space that is designed with children in mind.
Marylebone is an affluent area. Families can pay a monthly fee for access. I'd be happy to pay above market prices for a coffee and a piece of cake if my child could be in a safe environment.
This is a plea to anyone out there who can do this - there is a massively undeserved population in Marylebone. We don't need another trendy cafe, or overpriced juice bar, or bone broth shop or whatever the latest fad is. We need a business that caters to the resident population of families who will be loyal customers.
(apologies to reader for the ranting nature of this post!)