AFTER realising she could no longer face motherhood alone, Grace Dudley decided to open a play café in the hope it would bring mums in the community together.

Fast forward a year – it is thriving.

Mini Mania Play Café, based in Padgate, first opened on November 14 last year, and owner Grace has not stopped since, running the entire business on her own.

The charming set up features a play frame for toddlers and babies to explore, as well as comfy padded floor mats for new-borns to have a kick on while mums and dads can enjoy a coffee and some adult social interaction.

The café, located on Padgate Lane, is aimed at children aged four and under – something Grace highlighted as a unique aspect of the business as nowhere else in the area seems to cater exclusively to the younger ages.

A year on, the 31-year-old entrepreneur has found it to be a success, with mums having first joined when it opened still booking in their regular slots each week.

“One of the main things about the café is to build relationships with parents,” Grace explained.

“The whole idea came about because I was a parent that did not know anybody. When I moved to Warrington, I had three kids, did not know anyone and I was bordering on depression.

“My husband used to be in the army, and each of the barracks would have a café similar to this one where parents would go to with their children.”

Grace said how her own social life has improved since opening the café, as many of the regulars she now regards as ‘close friends’ and they have monthly mum’s nights out.Warrington Guardian: Grace and her husband spent hours building the play area from scratch and the hard work hasn't ended there with grace running the café alone.Grace and her husband spent hours building the play area from scratch and the hard work hasn't ended there with grace running the café alone. (Image: Newsquest)

Jess Heaton, a mum-of-two who has visited the play café since the first day it has opened described it as a ‘lifeline’ for her, having moved to Warrington from her hometown of Winsford in 2019 and not knowing anyone in the area.

“I have now got friends in Warrington thanks to the café,” she said.

“I had both my babies in lockdown, and it has really helped me and them. Grace has seen them grow up.

Jess, 31 and from Paddington, explained how her eldest son Ben, now two-and-a-half, struggled a lot with social interaction due to being a lockdown baby, and the sessions at the café have helped him a lot with interacting with other children.

“It has been amazing for Ben with him being a lockdown baby,” she said.

“He always says ‘are we are going to Grace’s house’ and he runs straight in there when we go, he loves it.”

Jess met Grace when she started regularly attending the play sessions, and the two now describe one another as ‘best friends’.

“Grace is incredible, she goes above and beyond for everyone,” Jess added.

Grace explained one of the hurdles she had to overcome within the year of being open was both of her Facebook pages for her business being reported for unknown reasons and being taken down, losing more than 6,000 followers in the process that she had worked hard to build up to.

While starting from the beginning again, she hopes to grow the social media platforms, which she heavily uses as her mainstream of advertising, so that in the future she has the opportunity to potentially grow the business and franchise.

“This year has flown by. Seeing all these relationships building keeps you going, the girls and mums who come in are friends for life,” Grace said.

“I am really proud of it. I have realised I can be proud of it now.

“We celebrated throughout the week of the anniversary with lots of different freebies put on and free cake for everyone.”

Play sessions at the café run twice a day with a morning and afternoon slot, and each day has a different theme of play, including ball pool and bubbles on Wednesdays and craft and play Fridays.

The space can also be hired out for parties with various packages on offer throughout the year.

To find out more or to book a session, visit Grace’s Facebook page at Mini Mania Play Café.