From headless chickens to award winners for Haywards Heath play cafe

JJ's Play Cafe in Haywards Heath (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150414-182749008

JJ's Play Cafe in Haywards Heath (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150414-182749008

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When the owners of a popular play cafe started their first business a year ago, they were ‘running around like headless chickens’.

Since then JJ’s Play Cafe, Sussex Road, Haywards Heath, has won an award and established a loyal customer base.

Reflecting on Tuesday’s anniversary, co-owner Lisa Baker said: “It’s been an eye opener, and we’ve been learning all the way through.

“When we opened this we were running around like headless chickens, with no idea how to make coffee that well. Now we can do things well, and at speed, we don’t get flustered.”

Lisa said she thinks people keep coming back because the cafe is clean, serves good coffee and, most importantly, is safe for children.

“Parents say to me, ‘I could take them to the park, but I have to keep an eye on them the whole time’, when they’re here they can relax a bit.”

When we opened this we were running around like headless chickens, with no idea how to make coffee that well. Now we can do things well, and at speed

She added:“It’s small enough for them to see them but large enough for the kids to enjoy it.”

Lisa and co-owner Jo Orton, who are both single mums from Burgess Hill, have enjoyed watching their customers grow up.

“It’s really nice for the younger ones when they get their confidence up to go on the big slides in the main play area,” Lisa said.

“They’re really sociable, they can leave having made five new best friends.”

JJ’s has nine employees aged from 17 to 60s.

Lisa said: “We’ve got a really good team behind us, it’s a total mix. We’ve got great customers. We’ve got a really god reputation and been welcomed into the community.”

Throughout this week kids are being entertained by Burgess Hill Mascots, including Mickey Mouse and Peppa Pig.

The cafe is introducing a loyalty card.

“It’s been a really hard year, a year of learning. We’re going to build on what we have got, and continue to offer new things,” Lisa added.

The cafe won Bright FM’s Best New Business 2015.