The main part of the clientele of any stay and play destination is always from the neighbourhood around it. For Oaks ‘N Acorns, the immediate and enthusiastic response of area parents must be very encouraging. Indeed, the ladies behind this still-new Danforth drop-in café have plans for what has been the garage. The stay n’ play café avec classes has clearly hit the mark with east end East York families, and while the classes will need their own examination in due time, the jury is in on the ‘front’ portion.
The café portion is not huge. The menu is small, clearly privileging consistency over variety. This decision seems to be paying dividends, as a Tuesday morning snack at Oaks ‘N Acorns is likely to require sharing tables. As bringing children and parents together as a community is explicitly part of the founders’ vision, the close quarters are an inevitable product of their success. Seats will be offered, so any moderately patient child and parent will still be able to comfortably enjoy popular-yet-healthy snacks like muffins, cheese strings, yogurt or mandarin oranges. The coffee is decent, as Oaks 'N Acorns possesses a quality commercial coffee and espresso maker, and the ladies know how to use it. Four or five dollars over and above the $5 drop-in rate will get you a coffee or juice and a couple of food items, so despite upscale leanings, Oaks 'N Acorns will not break the bank.
The play area is functional and clean, and does not offer the same toys as its most demanding clients are likely to have at home. The play area forms an ‘L’ beside the café tables, and is more or less divided into three areas. There is a long table surrounded by art supplies, and with paper laid out over the tables for immediate colouring. There is a large duplo table in the corner, with a plethora of different blocks, as well as specialty pieces and animals that go with them. There is also a small rectangular area where smaller toys, the wall unit, and a spinning papasan-style chair are clustered. The areas are partially divided from each other, so play is somewhat contained, yet almost every square inch can be seen from anywhere else in the room.
There is much more room to Oaks ‘N Acorns as well, including washrooms and a change table downstairs, and a pair of ‘classrooms.’ The upstairs classroom is sometimes open for drop-in play, schedule permitting, but is easily separated off so that it makes little difference to those at drop-in play whether a class is in session or not. The classes are the other ‘half’ of the business, and are extensive enough to require their own piece, but interested parents can find out more about them from the website, by picking up a brochure, or even by going by and dropping in to play. There will be other children to play with, and that is the ultimate recommendation.