And that’s exactly what the Ridgewood venue did this past Friday afternoon, complete with a magician, characters like Elmo and SpongeBob SquarePants, and free food and beverages for everyone. In this case, the guest of honor was none other than KIDS FUN HOUSE herself, as the top-tier playtime/arts ‘n’ crafts destination marked its 1st Anniversary with a festive celebration – including pizza, chicken, pierogi and stuffed cabbage – for a guest list numbering more than 100 loyal patrons.
KIDS FUN HOUSE, located on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, just off of Metropolitan Avenue, is the brainchild of Agnieszka “Aga” Dojlidko, who emigrated from Poland just 10 years ago and quickly made a name for herself in the hospitality business here in New York, especially via stints at top-tier bowling venues like BOWLMOR LANES in Manhattan and STRIKE out in Lake Success.
When her son David was born, Dojlidko, a resident of Maspeth, found it difficult to find any kind of toddler-oriented destination to accommodate the child’s playtime and early learning needs. “We couldn’t find a place that was nice and comfortable,” she recalled on Friday. “And he was too little for the park.”
For Dojlidko and other young mothers in her situation, what was sorely lacking in the community was a fun, family-friendly destination that would allow their children the opportunity to spread their wings a bit, one that would also instill confidence as to its safe and secure environment. So, like any savvy entrepreneur would, Dojlidko – thanks to the aid, encouragement, and support of her extended family – set out to fill that need herself, and thus was born the aptly named KIDS FUN HOUSE.
Aside from its spacious and cozy Toddler Area up front (brightly colored and brightly lit), KIDS FUN HOUSE boasts a red, yellow, and blue triple slide that has to be seen to be believed, along with a host of mazes, an obstacle course, another spiral slide, and even video games for slightly older kids.
But quite frankly, what sets the place apart from so many others in the field is how much special attention is also paid to adults’ needs here. For example, there is ample seating for watching, waiting, etc., and even a lite-bites munchies counter serving food and beverages. (Not only that, but KIDS FUN HOUSE boasts a terrific cup of coffee as well, a welcome addition to any hard-working parent’s long winter afternoon!)
But the Ridgewood venue’s greatest claim to fame? Most definitely their signature party rooms – which enable KIDS FUN HOUSE to entertain young patrons with a variety of themes and accessories ranging anywhere from simple arts ‘n’ crafts to pirates, princesses, even Dora and Diego.
“We had, in the past year, 550 birthday parties,” noted Dojlidko proudly. (Do the math, folks – that’s more than 10 a week!) And while it may have taken some time to get things up and running at first – a year later, it was clear on this particular Friday that KIDS FUN HOUSE has become quite the place to be. Noted Dojlidko, “It’s that popular slogan, but it’s true – keep trying, and ‘never give up’!”
The hard work has clearly not gone un-noticed by the community, as a great many of Dojlidko’s current patrons are loyal devotees fortunate enough to have encountered KIDS FUN HOUSE when it first opened, and who were more than eager to share in the fun and commemorate the milestone on Friday.
Like Ridgewood’s Hind Belkacem, for example. “We were the first ones here,” Belkacem told us. “There is nothing in this area around here. And my kids just love the big slide.” Ask Belkacem to identify what she’s most appreciative of when it comes to KIDS FUN HOUSE, and she makes herself crystal clear on the point – “I love that it’s so very clean, that is very important.”
Another Ridgewood patron, Omayra Crespo, echoed Belkacem’s sentiments. For Crespo, an afternoon at KIDS FUN HOUSE allows her the opportunity “to let my boys run around, and know that they’re safe and having fun. And not only that, the staff here is very friendly.”
Ah yes, the staff – one of the most important elements involved as far as the care and well-being of youngsters is concerned. In fact, as much as it can be reward enough to provide a much-needed service to the community’s children, it just might be Dojlidko’s staff that make all her long hours worthwhile. “I’m so proud of my girls, who’ve been with me from the beginning, and are just wonderful employees and friends.”
You’ve got to give the folks at KIDS FUN HOUSE a lot of credit. Despite a tough economy plaguing our nation from the very day they opened, they’ve managed not just to survive...but to thrive. Something that definitely benefits the entire community, even just this little strip of Fresh Pond Road, what with ROSA’S PIZZA two storefronts to the north, FORCE FITNESS CLUB two storefronts to the south, and a brand new UNCLE LOUIE G’s ice cream parlor about to open next door. As a grateful Crespo told us Friday, reflecting back on the year just passed, “I definitely think this brought some life into the neighborhood.”
KIDS FUN HOUSE is located at 62-73 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, just off of Metropolitan Avenue, and can be reached at 718-418-KIDS (5437). They are currently hosting free admission on the first Wednesday of every month. For more information, please visit www.KidsFunHouse.com.