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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bells And Whistles Snackery in Glen Ellyn

Place: Bells And Whistles Snackery

Type of place: Restaurant/Cafe With A Play Area

Location: 405 North Main Street, Glen Ellyn, IL

Cost: Depends on what you buy! Go for a meal, a snack, or ice cream!

Secret: Check the calendar on their website for the days and times of special events, such as story/craft times (on a different day each week) and Kids Night Out nights.

Appropriate ages: Its perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, but older kids will enjoy it too because of the cool snacks and the video games in the game room!

When I heard about Bells And Whistles Snackery, I had to check it out! I'm always excited about anyplace where I can take the kids that involves the kids being amused while I relax and drink a soda!

My first impression when I walked in was that it looked very clean and fancy, and sort of old-fashioned, with shiny wooden floors and brick walls. But my second impression was that the people behind the counter weren't quite sure what they were doing. I just wanted to get a snack, so I told Pufferfish that she could have a cupcake, which I saw on the menu. However, after the cashier rang up the cupcakes and took my money, she asked me what kind of muffins I wanted. I told her I had ordered cupcakes, and she said they didn't have any cupcakes that day! They only had muffins! Luckily they had chocolate chip muffins, so I could convince Pufferfish that those were cupcakes!

The play area was very nice, but not spectacular. There was a train table and two chalkboard tables, a few riding toys, and two pizzaria-style video games. There was also a box of random toys like puzzles with missing pieces, books, etc. The novelty was mostly in the fact that kids could have something to play with instead of being trapped at the table while the grown-ups socialized.

However, the part that definitely did impress me was when one of the ladies who worked there (maybe the owner???) came out and announced that it was going to be story time. She read a few stories to the small group of children there, and she was a great story reader! (Pufferfish and I go to tons of story times, so I know a good one when I see one!) She paid attention to the kids' reactions to the story, asked them questions, and pointed things out to them. Afterwards, she presented a craft in which they made butterflies with popcorn wings. She taught them a little St. Patrick's Day jig, and then she even took them all behind the counter and gave them each a cup of Green River soda in honor of Saint Patrick's Day! The lady said that the Snackery does this type of thing once a week, but on a different day each week, so that kids who have other classes or activities on certain days of the week can still have a chance to attend the story time other weeks.

She also told me that on Friday and Saturday nights, they have a special event where, for ten dollars, kids geta hot dog, macaroni and cheese. an apple, a fountain drink or milk, a Mini Moo (small ice cream) and Popcorn, and they get to watch a movie. Parents of older kids can actually leave during this, and parents of younger kids or parents who just don't feel comfortable leaving can relax in a separate room and keep an eye on their kids on a video monitor. (A staff member at the Snackery will be supervising the children in person at all times.) That sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it?

The feeling that came through about the Snackery, in the end, was that the people who run it really care about their customers and want them to have a good time. They're not just in it to make money... they're in it to create a feeling of community for their customers and themselves. I love places like this, run by ordinary people who hatld an idea and ran with it! So, yes, I will definitely be going back to Bells And Whistles, and I suggest that you do too!

[caption id="attachment_19" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pufferfish eats her "cupcake" muffin and colors in a coloring book!"]Pufferfish eats her "cupcake" muffin and colors in a coloring book![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_16" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pufferfish in the play area at Bells And Whistles. "]Pufferfish in the play area at Bells And Whistles. [/caption]


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