Several changes are in the works when it comes to children's hangouts in Bellingham.
Stacey and Michael Stang are making preparations for Captain Jack Jr.'s Family Entertainment Center at 4176 Meridian St., in the former Barron Heating building across the street from the Bellingham Athletic Club. The Stangs are making improvements to the space and are aiming for a summer opening, possibly in July. Stacey Stang said they will have a pirate and underwater creatures theme, focusing on pizza, baked goods and espresso as food and drink options.
This comes after Time in Play Café at 311 E. Holly St. (near the YMCA) closed last week. In a Facebook post, the café owner expressed hope that the closure is more of a "sabbatical" and that someone else will try to continue the space as a community center. The café opened last October, focusing on also being a play area for children.
But another kid-friendly option is in the works. Tenant improvement plans were submitted last month to convert a former nightclub (Hot Shotz, at 1707 N. State St.) into a cafe and indoor kids play area called Family Clubhouse Cafe.
Captain Jack Jr.'s will have a variety of things to entertain children, including video games, an indoor play area (similar to the one in Bellis Fair, but with the pirate/water creature theme). The target market will be children between the ages of 5 and 13, but the play area can work for younger children. The owners also are considering special teen nights to appeal to slightly older kids.
Stacey Stang said they were interested in starting a business like this because they wanted to have a place for children to hang out, as well as operate a business that would allow them to be involved with their own four children, who range in age from almost 2 to 13. Stacey grew up with an amusement park background - her parents own Putt-N-Go Amusement Park in Bemidji, Minn.
"I grew up with an amusement park, working there since I was 9," Stacey said. "Now my kids go there and have a blast. It's such a great experience."
The pizza will be freshly made and cater toward the parents, she said.
"It's the parents that are the ones sitting at the table eating, while the kids are running around, so we want it to be something they would enjoy," Stacey said.
It took some time for the Stangs to find a building big enough to fit their needs for an entertainment center. She said they realized converting the space into what they wanted would be a challenge, but they believe the decent parking area and the traffic exposure on Meridian are positive features that help balance it out.
After the entertainment center is up and running, the owners intend to organize some youth and community outreach programs. Stacey said they envision situations where children would work on some reading, math or other school subjects through clubs and are then rewarded for their work with free video game tokens.
Once open, hours are tentatively going to be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The owners of Captain Jack Jr.'s are soliciting three-minute pirate adventures videos of local children that they intend to incorporate into segments shown on TV. Details can be found on the business' Facebook page, which also is the place to get updates.
For further information, call 360-562-0883.
SPRUCING UP THE BAGELRY
The Bagelry on Bellingham's Railroad Avenue will be closed Monday and Tuesday, May 28-29, while the restaurant undergoes some spring improvements, including a paint job, said owner Ken Ryan. It will be reopen for its regular hours Wednesday, May 30.
This project is part of a three-phase remodel at the restaurant, Ryan said. Next year he intends to do a major remodel to improve the cashier area as part of the second phase, and the third phase in 2014 will include getting a new awning.
The City Grill restaurant on Cornwall Avenue (near Kids Northwest) has closed for renovation. A note on the door says it is being revamped into a Chinese restaurant. The new restaurant will focus on foods from northeastern China, according to the note.
Across the street on Cornwall, a flower and gift store called Life's a Party has closed. It had moved into that spot from Magnolia Street in February.
TD Curran has closed its Meridian Street spot, consolidating into its new building at 2551 Roeder Ave., near Squalicum Harbor. The company also has a small spot inside Village Books as well as a store in Everett.
Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday. Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.