When Shari Misher Stenzler reached the top of a long narrow staircase with her infant daughter, Kylie, on one arm and the stroller and baby gear on the other, she had her “there must be a better way” moment. They were on their way to music class, one of several classes the pair attended. When Stenzler returned to her Manhattan apartment, she was exhausted, but she also had an idea, “Why can’t there be a space that's more user-friendly?” she lamented to her husband, Andy Stenzler. How about lots of different classes for moms with small children all under one roof? Shari, chairperson of the public relations firm, London Misher, and Andy, co-founder and former CEO of the Cosi restaurant chain, were ready to hit the ground running. They put together a varied team, of people including early education specialists Carol Sterling and Natalie Cronin, and created Kidville, NY, which opens this month.
Indoor playgrounds met with limited success in the mid-'90s. After a few years, the novelty seemed to wear off. So Shari and Andy canvassed the Upper East Side and asked moms what they were looking for in an indoor playground. They found that parents were receptive to lots of classes, in one place. They also wanted additional services like a café, hair and nail salon, shopping, and a place to just hang out. And they wanted the facility to be immaculate and secure. Kidville, NY will offer exactly these things for parents with children up to the age of five. There are classes for the older toddler to attend on his own, giving parents time to shop, visit the salon or grab a bite at the café. There are fitness and parenting classes for moms and dads. There are weekend activities, including a concert series.
Kidville, NY has open houses slated this month, with classes beginning January 31. One offering is Music Together ($595) for children ages newborn to 4 years old and their parent or guardian. Already, 40 birthday parties are booked. The cost of a party runs from $695 for 10 children to $1950 for 20 children. The facility is members only, but Silver membership is free with any class sign up. Gold and Platinum memberships are available for a fee and provide various perks; Gold membership includes 10 percent discounts at Kidville Café and Kidville boutique, and 10 free passes to the state-of-the-art, supervised indoor playground. Platinum members can enjoy a 15 percent discount at the Café and boutique, as well as unlimited complimentary admission to the indoor playground.
It has been two years in the making, and the Stenzlers are thrilled with the $3 million, 20,000 square foot facility. According to Andy, patrons will “shoot into Kidville” through a tunnel where they will be greeted by the membership staff. The café and retail store are on this ground floor level. The lower level has a theater for drama classes, as well as Stroller Cinema where adults can watch a movie with their children ages newborn-pre-crawler. The second and third floors house music, art, movement and cooking classes, as well as the hair and nail salon. Birthday parties can center on almost any theme, and Kidville will customize a party for children up to 10 years of age.
The Stenzlers look forward to expanding their idea in other locations. But this particular month, they’ll be kept busy — with the opening of their flagship Kidville, and the birth of their expected, a baby boy!
Address: 163 East 84th Street, between Third and Lexington Phone: (212) 848-9415 Website: www.kidvilleny.com