A new place to play is always cause for celebration here at Red Tri NYC, and a fresh one has popped up in a spot you might not expect: a Turkish Cafe in Sheepshead Bay. We checked it out and give it a big thumbs up, making it a play destination worth a trip, whether your family lives next door or further afield.

photo: Masal Cafe via Facebook


Big Space, Big Fun!
The new play space is actually an addition to the existing Turkish eatery Cafe Masal. (Fans of old New York will recognize the building as the one that housed the massive, legendary bayside seafood restaurant Lundy’s, which in its heyday sat more than 2,000 patrons.) The current setup appeals perfectly both to kids, who can play their little hearts out, and parents, who can take advantage of the sprawling inside playspace while relaxing with a view of the water.

The new indoor playground, which debuted in February, consists of an impressive 2,000 square feet of play space for kids. (The cafe only uses a fraction of the  space, and the second floor playground is tiny when compared to the building it resides in.) Despite the evident age in the hallways surrounding it, the playground is modern and comfortable, with Turkish arches and light fixtures that add a pleasant dash of ambiance.

photo: Yuliya Geikhman


The Kids Can Play & You Can Hear Yourself Think
The spacious play space forms an L shape around a large seating area where parents can relax while kids play. The two areas are separated by a set of doors (which are generally open — but always watched by a staff member), and clear, but thick glass.

The result is a perfect setup: you can keep an eye on your kids at all times, but barely any of the noise permeates through, keeping the seating area blissfully quiet. A row of large windows along one side look out to the bay and create a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

photo: via Masal Cafe Facebook page 

A Wide Range of Distractions
Once inside, children have a wide range of toys and interactive stations to play with. There is a large bouncy castle, a ball pit inside a smaller bouncy house, and a soft obstacle and climbing course. Two interactive screens on the floor react when kids walk over them, allowing them to play minigames like soccer and whack-a-mole by jumping around.

Two small play houses sit in a corner to accommodate even the youngest visitors. The entire floor is covered in a soft children’s puzzle play mat. The variety is enough for kids to be entertained for at least an hour and let out some energy.

photo: via Masal Cafe Facebook page 

The Rules of Play
Parents check in their kids at the play area, where a staff member takes down the child’s and parent’s names, and a phone number. There is a flat fee of $10 per child to use the playground for all ages (there is no minimum for entry — or for the fee). Children are asked to take off their shoes (these can be left on the convenient shelf space at the entrance), and socks are a must. At the end of your stay, the children’s play fee is added onto your bill, which you pay at the desk when you’re ready to leave.

The indoor playground is not a babysitting service and parents are required to stay close by, but there is always somebody inside the playspace keeping an eye on the kids. Parents can opt to hang out in the playspace with their kids as well, and those who do tend to look out for all the children as a community, adding a layer of safety.

photo: via Masal Cafe Facebook page


What’s To Eat — For Kids and Adults
While the kids play, parents can sit and enjoy the cafe’s menu, which includes some pricey but delicious breakfast and lunch fare like the kumpir, an impressively loaded baked potato. The highlight of the menu, however, is the vast assortment of desserts, from Turkish delicacies like Baklava, to puddings and ice creams and much more. A small children’s menu includes typical kid favorites like french fries and mozzarella sticks.

photo: via Masal Cafe Facebook page 

When To Go
The playground does get busy, but sunny weekend days seem to be the least busy for now (when we visited on a sunny Sunday at noon there were only three other families there). Perhaps counterintuitively, this is a good place to visit on a beautiful sunny day when the family needs a break from the heat. If you do find the space busy, you can always stop by later —  the kid area is open until 11:30 p.m.

Masal Cafe
1901 Emmons Ave.
Sheepshead Bay
Online: masalcafe.com
(718) 891-7090

Have you visited Masal Cafe? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

— Yuliya Geikhman