Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

October 13, 2013

Cafe will cater to families

TRAVERSE CITY — Eat. Learn. Frolic. That’s the idea behind a new family friendly business that’s coming to town.

Elf Café is garnering local and national attention, even before it opens its doors. Even before its owners announce its location.

Local attorneys Melissa Whitman and Ellen Fred have long thought there was a need for a place in the community where parents can connect with other parents and children can play in a positive environment and eat healthy food.

“We both had the same experience when we had new babies,” Fred said. “We felt a sense of isolation, because there was nowhere to go to connect with other parents. There’s a lack of places to get a good quality meal, where kids can have fun and where parents can take a break.”

“I remembering thinking there was no place to go. It was really limiting,” said Whitman. “I missed the freedom to go places and do things. When you have a really young child with you, you want a place with a bathroom with nice changing facilities and where it’s okay if there’s a meltdown.”

Whitman had a vision of Elf, literally dreaming up the idea in vivid detail.

“It came to me that we needed to start a child-friendly café, a place for parents to go with their children, one that’s a great experience for the parents, too,” said Whitman.

She shared the idea with Fred, who immediately started brainstorming about possibilities and the concept of Elf began to take shape. Fred brought a love of local agriculture to the project, which combined nicely with Whitman’s passion for design.

The two decided to become partners, and eight months later they are close to securing money needed to make Elf a reality. All the start-up cash came from local, private investors.

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