Toad Hall named top cafe for kids

Child-friendly cafe wins national award

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 08:03 31/10/2012
Toad Hall
ALASTAIR PAULIN/FAIRFAX NZ

CHILD'S PLAY: Nisha Sheriff, 2, mum Kelly Sheriff and Nikita Sheriff, 5, enjoying the kids play area at Motueka’s Toad Hall, winner of the Supreme Award in the Little Treasures Kid-Friendly Cafe Awards.

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Angie Morris has four children and was sick of taking them to cafes where people would feel the need to tell off her boisterous boys.

So when she and her partner Hamish Fletcher took over Motueka's Toad Hall eight years ago, they were determined to create a kid-friendly space.

The effort paid off, with large groups of mums bringing their children there at least twice a week, and now the popular cafe and produce shop has won the Supreme Award in the Little Treasures Kid-Friendly Cafe Awards.

Toad Hall won the top award out of 13 regional finalists that came from the more than 60 cafes nationwide nominated by the readers of Little Treasures magazine.

On Tuesday morning, Kelly Sheriff was pushing her daughters Nisha, 2, and Nikita, 5, in the homemade swings in the large play area at the cafe. She said it was easy to see why the cafe had won.

"They've got the sandpit, the swings and the slide. It means parents can enjoy a coffee without kids whingeing that they want to go home every five minutes."

Ms Morris said that her three sons were particularly energetic and so it was always her intention to create a welcoming space for children.

"Sadly, the only place many people can go to relax with their kids is McDonalds and we wanted something with a natural environment and healthy food."

Toad Hall serves a kid's platter with fruit, nuts, a ham and cheese toastie and some Proper crisps and Ms Morris said children would "have a nibble, go and play and come back and nibble. It keeps them happy."

Mr Fletcher also runs his business Wooden Toys NZ from the cafe, which features his wooden swings, toadstool seats and other handmade delights for kids.

One of the readers who nominated Toad Hall told the magazine: "My two-year-old spends ages at home playing with his trucks which are all apparently ‘taking people to Toad Hall'. A true sign of approval."

Ms Morris hinted at changes to come that would see the play area catering for adults' "inner child" and also said the cafe would be starting community music evenings next month with a large stone barbecue and pizza oven outside.

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