Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Lauren Pohl, founder of Kidz Central Station, a website where parents can search for and book fun classes and activities for their kids. Lauren lives with her husband and two kids, her four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son, in Manhattan.
How would you describe your business and website, Kidz Central Station?
Kidz Central Station helps parents search for, learn about, compare and enroll in classes/activities for children (like Open Table but for kids activities rather than restaurants).
How did Kidz Central Station begin?
I was motivated to start Kidz Central Station after I tried to find a cooking class for my daughter and Googled “kids cooking classes”—and only found tons of adult classes. I asked friends for suggestions and walked around my neighborhood to see if there were any cooking schools for kids. I became frustrated as I use technology for so many aspects of my life as a mother (e.g. buying diapers at diapers.com or sharing photos on Facebook) yet there was no comparable service for discovering, comparing and enrolling in kids’ classes and other activities. I knew that there were so many amazing options for classes and activities in NYC for kids, and that there needed to be an easy, centralized way, for busy parents to learn about them.
We built Kidz Central Station so that parents could go to one site and learn about the different kid activity options available by searching with filters that are important to them such as age, price, location, type of class and schedule, and to directly enroll if they so desire. We also have reviews of classes/activities so parents can learn from the experiences of other parents.
What kinds of activities has your business introduced your kids to?
Every week we learn about so many amazing and interesting classes and activities available in NYC. My daughter is four and loves princesses and fairy tales. As a result of Kidz Central Station we were introduced to the Galli Fairy Tale Theater. She now takes an acting class there and will also do a week of camp there this summer. She loves performing the stories we read at home and pretending to be the different characters. I also learned about some really cool art classes for kids, called Claire’s Creative Adventures, that include visiting local museums as part of the classes. This kind of option make so much sense to have in NYC and I’m so glad that we can help other parents learn that it’s available.
On to food! When did you start taking your kids out to eat in restaurants?
We started taking our children to restaurants when they were able to sit in a highchairs. We took a vacation when our daughter was four months old. We ate in a bunch of restaurants on that trip and found it wasn’t as hard as we expected it to be.
What have you found are the easiest/hardest ages to eat out with your kids?
Four is a good age to eat out as she likes to try to read the menu (or at least the letters on the menu) and this occupies her. Ages 12-18 months were hard as both of my children threw their food on the floor and they constantly wanted to hold the utensils and throw those on the floor as well.
Fave local restaurants to eat out with the kids?
We love a local Italian restaurant near our apartment called Notaro as it’s really family-friendly, the waiter knows our kids’ names and always makes us feel really welcomed. We love that there are often other families there, so we aren’t the only ones with loud kids who can’t sit in their chairs.
Fave spot to stop for treats?
We like PinkBerry and we love the vegan chocolate chip scones from WholeFoods. Our (almost) daily routine now includes going to WholeFoods to get these scones—after picking up my daughter from school on Fridays, plus other random days when the mood strikes. We take the scones to nearby Madison Square Park to enjoy them.
Do you have any eating out traditions with your family?
We enjoy going to Central Park and then out to our favorite pizza restaurant, Al Forno. Whether we go to the zoo, play in a playground or go scooting in the park, we typically end up at Al Forno and then Emack and Bolios for ice cream.
Number one tip for other parents when eating out with kids?
Remember your kids always seem louder to you than they do to other people.