Wed07302014

Business & Real Estate

Bumble cafe caters to children, parents

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Mary Heffernan, owner of the soon-to-open First Street cafe Bumble, plays with her daughters, Janie, left, and Maisie in the soundproof room. The front of the store is a restaurant.

Children are blaring and patrons are glaring – at least that’s what might happen in a cafe that doubles as a day-care center.

But Mary Heffernan thinks she has it figured out.

The Los Altos mother of three is scheduled Friday to open Bumble, a cozy cafe across from Safeway on First Street that also sports a play area for children. The selling point of the area is that it’s soundproof and staffed with a supervisor. Be sure not to miss the wall-sized fish tank.

And, yes, there’s a grownups-only section.

“I want it to be a soothing environment where you can meet friends,” said Heffernan, who at one point operated a K-12 tutoring company in Menlo Park. “Moms want a place to go and hang out, and kids are pretty happy playing anywhere.”

Heffernan said she rolled with the concept because a local establishment like it didn’t exist, and she saw Los Altos as a perfect host for her “play cafe,” as she calls it.

“There are a lot of young families infusing into Los Altos,” she said. “And I feel like downtown Los Altos really supports community.”

Citing the annual Kiwanis Pet Parade as an example, she added, “I was blown away with how much Los Altos has to offer.”

Most eateries can augment revenue with a high turnover of customers coming and going quickly, but Heffernan said she’ll encourage lingering. To her, that’s part of building community – and loyalty.

“It just seems like you can still run a business with high energy” without sky-high turnover, she said. Through a smile, she added, “People are going to say I’m crazy and it’ll never work.”

But if Heffernan’s past is any indication, she knows what she’s doing. Bumble is her seventh venture – unless you also count her childhood candy-selling business.

An aside: Heffernan passed the MCATs after graduating from college in 2000 but chose to forgo the medicine route because she said she “loves business” and crafting atmosphere.

On the menu

Bumble’s offerings – prepared by executive chef Daniel Cote and baker Keeley Barnes – include health-minded meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for toddlers and adults, with some gluten-free selections.

A wide range of salads, soups and sandwiches as well as gourmet flat breads highlight the menu. Included in a “for your wee one” section are PB&J, pancakes, baked chicken slices and edamame.

An array of high-end wines, beers and cocktails for mom and dad dot the menu’s back pages.

Child-watching services will run approximately $5-$7 per half hour, with 50 percent off for siblings, Heffernan said.

Optimism key

As construction crews tear up First Street a stone’s throw from her space, many merchants and residents have expressed discontent. But to Heffernan? No biggie.

“I’m excited about construction,” she said. “We’re just excited to be in Los Altos.”

Bumble is located at 145 First St. For more information, visit www.bumblelosaltos.com.

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