LONDONDERRY, NH – Young families with small children have a hard time finding places to go where they feel comfortable, safe and able to have fun. And more than ever, they’re getting cooped up in their houses.
This spring there may be a solution for southern New Hampshire: The Nest Family Cafe.
Londonderry couple Jamie and Ryan Getchell are currently renovating the space at 25 Orchard View Drive Unit 1 to create a brand new coffee shop niche. The hope is to open by early April.
Earlier this month, they obtained the necessary permits from the town to begin the interior buildout, and they successfully raised $25,511 from over 300 backers who supported a Kickstarter campaign that will cover some of the additional amenities.
“The feedback from the community was overwhelming in response to this,” Jamie said.
They got the idea for the business from their own experience as parents of three kids (ages 5, 4 and 18 months) and their desire to relive the joys of having a chill cafe date, an experience that became elusive after the birth of their firstborn.
“When we met, we dated by going to coffee shops,” Ryan said. “The experience wasn’t the same as when we were dating, probably because of the kid.”
What they came up with was a unique blend of chic and stylish cafe and lowkey child play area.
The roughly 1,500-square-foot space will include a regular seating space, a play area for younger kids (designed to look like a bird’s nest), a tree house reading nook, a private family room with a changing table, bottle warmer and breast-feeding chair, a snack dispenser wall with a selection of cereals and a chalk wall. The idea is to offer enough activities so the kids won’t be bored, but not so much fun that they’ll get riled up.
“We really wanted to be different than a Chuck E Cheese or an Xtreme Craze,” Ryan said.
Coffee will be supplied by Peet’s Coffee, a specialty national brand that has little presence in New Hampshire so far.
“They tend to be a more sustainable, community-oriented kind of brand,” Ryan said. “We could have gone with a local roastery but there were so many shops offering local beans that we wanted to offer something that was a differentiator.”
The cafe will brew regular coffee, cold brews, espressos, lattes and hot chocolates.
Aside from the snack bar, and grab-and-go items like yogurt tubes and juice pouches, the cafe will also offer custom-made bento boxes that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
The cafe will sell pastries from Klemm’s Bakery in Windham. And there will be in-house smoothies.
“We even have a silent blender so it doesn’t scare the kids,” Jamie said.
The cafe will also retail home spa items for the mom looking to treat herself, Melissa & Doug toys and learning activities and some “Play-Doh Surprise Jars” (that each contain a secret surprise inside the dough), which the Getchells are creating themselves, and mugs with tongue-in-cheek phrases printed on them such as “Momma needs coffee.”
They’ve already heard from local moms in the area with Etsy shops who are looking to sell their handcrafted products through the cafe.
Ryan said its location next to a salon and boutique is perfect for the kind of demographic they’re aiming for.
The two had an “entrepreneurial itch” for a while. They started dating as working professionals; Ryan was a software designer for data warehousing and business intelligence and Jamie worked for the FBI in Boston.
Jamie quit her job to raise the children while Ryan worked remotely from home. But as the pandemic struck, they began to get stir crazy, which presented an idea for a solution and a business model. They decided to take the plunge last year, and started looking for spaces and testing the idea out on friends.
Ryan quit his job in May and they signed a lease with the Orchard View Drive location in June (though the landlord didn’t require them to pay rent until the change of use permitting was sorted out with the town).
About a quarter of the business is self-funded, and the remainder is financed with a Small Business Administration loan.
The Getchells say they’ve noticed several moments of serendipity throughout the process. They found the location just as the landlord posted its availability, they are getting some free marketing research and recommendations from a team of UNH seniors who’ve selected their cafe as the focus of their Capstone project, and the Getchell’s next-door neighbor is the East Coast Sales Manager for Peet’s Coffee in the United States.
“Meetings with him are a cup of coffee in our driveway. We don’t have to go far,” Jamie said.
The Getchells say they think the concept has great potential for additional locations and even a franchise down the road. But they probably won’t look at branching out for another five years or so.
⇒ On the web: thenestfamilycafe.com