When it comes to dining out with kids, you’ve usually got two choices: you can go to grown-up restaurants (great food, but you have to worry about a meltdown messing with the ambiance) or “kid restaurants” (nibbling sub-par pizza while feeding your kids tokens). The Great Room Cafe in Redondo Beach is neither. With supervised playrooms that let you enjoy a good meal (and a glass of wine!) while your kiddos play—we bet it’s going to be the new go-to spot for family date nights in the South Bay.
Right Where You Want to Be
Located on a busy stretch of Artesia Boulevard just a few blocks away from the Galleria Mall, The Great Room Cafe is in a spacious corner lot that used to be the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the fitting location for a kids play place (you’re just a few blocks from the 405 Freeway, after all), but step inside and the cozy warmth of this place will make you forget all about the traffic outside.
Dig the Digs Before Your Dig Into Food
Chuck E. Cheese, this is not. In fact, if it weren’t for the kiddos seen dangling on the legs and arms of parents waiting in line for a play pass, this place doesn’t look like a kids place at all. The stone floors are clean and glossy, the numerous flat-screen TVs mounted around the room aren’t broadcasting cartoons (sports are usually what’s on tap here) and clusters of comfy couches in the back will make you feel like you’re in a friend’s living room.
But first things first: When you arrive, stop at the front register—this is where you’ll have to sign a waiver and buy a playroom hand stamp for your kids (they’re $10/$8 for siblings). Once your kiddos are stamped, you can set them (and yourself) free.
Bye, Bye, Kids: Mommy Has a Play Date!
Whether you’ve got babies or toddlers or big kids or tweens, there’s a place for them to hang here. For kids under 5, the toddler room has a small climbing structure and slide; an imaginative play area with a kitchen and mini-store; a few ride-on toys, a mini-trampoline, a slew of toys and books, plus a flat screen TV set to Nick Jr. or some other tot-friendly channel. It’s plenty to keep them busy, at least until your food arrives.
And—the best part—there’s supervision for little ones, so if you want to go chat, snack, drink and relax, have at it! Great Room playrooms are supervised (usually by one staff member), so as long as your kids don’t mind being left by themselves, you can leave them here while you go have some grown-up time in the other room. That’s right: You’re free. It’s like date night without arranging a sitter you have to rush home to.
Note: The official rules here are that kids should be over age 4 to be left in the playroom without a parent; however, during the three times we visited, playroom supervisors were happy to watch over independent toddlers. And, since there’s no way for kids to exit the building without crossing the lounge and dining area, your kids won’t get far without you seeing them.
Big Kid Fun
Are you OK with screen time? Because the Great Room Cafe’s big kid game room is all about it. There are five flat-screen TVs (one of them is actually a humongous picture made from four interlocking screens) all hooked up to Xboxes and PS4s and loaded with a plethora of choices for your little gamers. Four computer stations are available for kids who want to prefer computer games to the big screen kind; and a drum set and Guitar Hero game can be set up for musically-inclined tots. Finally, there’s a foosball table and a basketball shooting game for when those little fingers tire of tapping on keys or controllers. Basically, it’s big kid heaven.
Eats and Drinks
When your kids are tired of playing (or when you deem it’s time to stop), they’ll be happy to chow down on the Great Room’s menu options. Choices include kid faves like mac and cheese, mini burgers, and spaghetti with meat sauce. More mature palates can choose from the regular menu, which offers a variety, from chicken tortilla soup and Italian chopped salad to linguini with clams and a chicken artichoke panini. Admittedly, the food may not be as good as your actual date night spots—it’s no five-star dining experience, after all—but it’s yummy enough (the fries rock!) and way better than the fast-food and arcade alternatives. There’s also a selection of desserts including chocolate chunk brownies, ice cream sundaes, cookies, and mini cupcakes.
For grown-ups, there’s wine and beer, as well as Coffee Bean brand coffee. And, speaking of coffee: the Great Room opens at 7 a.m. every day (and is open until 10 p.m on weekdays and 11 p.m. on the weekend) and offers a variety of breakfast items all morning. Forget donuts and the park. On rainy, hot or just need-something-different days, order your kids a Farmers Market Scramble or classic waffles and then do a little work on your laptop while your kid plays in the other room (there’s free Wifi).
photo: Great Room Cafe’s Facebook page
Party Time, Excellent
Of course, no kid spot would be complete without the option to throw a party there. For this, the Great Room has a dedicated party room adjacent to the big kids’ playroom. It’s a spacious room with a projector and movie screen, and can accommodate up to 40 guests (renting this room can also include 60 minutes of supervised use of both playrooms).
When it comes to the South Bay, it looks like the dancing mouse has some stiff competition. To which all parents say, “Hallelujah!” So long Chuck E. Cheese, hello family fun.
The Great Room Cafe
2810 Artesia Blvd.
Do you have a favorite place where you can relax while the kids play? Let us know you fave fam haunts in the Comments below!