On Saturday, the Familier had an open house for its second location in Beijing, this time in the heart of the 798 Art District. By all accounts, the event was a huge success. The weather was gorgeous, the Familier was packed with families, and the staff managed to keep the supply of snacks and drinks flowing the whole afternoon. I had a chance to speak with Kyle Daley, the Marketing Manager, and he said they opened the new location to try and better serve the needs of families living in the NE of the city and out in Shunyi, for a whom a trip to the Chaowai SOHO location is a bit far. As their new branch is only a twenty-minute walk from our home, we think it is a great location.
The slide and ball pit were the hit of the Familier on the inside, but children and parents alike enjoyed the sand box and rooftop balcony which provided some unique views of the surrounding area and were not quite so crowded. There was also an extremely adept face painter on site churning out designs as fast as humanly possible, but not fast enough for her growing line of eager young facial canvases.
With the opportunity for parents to drop off their children for a few hours while the parents have an adult moment in the surrounding art galleries, I suspect the Familier will have no trouble making the new location a success. If you have never visited the Familier, they run arts and crafts activities as well as let kids run around to blow off steam. There is also a nice café, to take care of any rumbly tummies. However, there are a few things the staff will need to iron out, such as their interesting sinks that look great, but had parents perplexed and got as much water on the counter and floor as they did in the bowl. Another concern for parents will be the stairs and little steps that are everywhere on the exterior portion of the property. Even for Beijing, there are a lot of them. For the opening, the staff kept strollers downstairs for visitors, but it was unclear if that would be the norm.
Despite those minor setbacks, the place looks great and the kids had fun while the parents relaxed and socialized. I asked Reina what her favorite thing about the place was and she said it was definitely the indoor slide. Oh, and the sand box with white sand. And the face painting. And did I mention the delicious apple juice?