Ronak Patel and Heather Patel founded Play-A-Latte Cafe one year before the pandemic. Their goal was to provide the Region of Waterloo with a premier destination for families that combines community, coffee and indoor play. Young parents can socialize in a café setting with the confidence that their kids are in a fun and safe environment.
These entrepreneurs have a “roll with the punches” attitude. When the pandemic forced closures, they gave back to frontline workers with daily coffee deliveries to hospitals. During re-opening, Play-A-Latte implemented an online booking system for play and expanded its online retail operations to include toys, gifts and coffee.
Once Ronak and Heather qualified for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant from Digital Main Street (DMS), they got busy with their local DMS Digital Service Squad to better position their business as the “post-COVID-19 destination for the next generation of families with young children for play, parties and gifts.” Their Digital Service Squad was led by the City of Kitchener and the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre.
This has included building a strong visual brand online, implementing a system to support quick e-commerce sales and streamlining inventory management for faster in-store checkout to enhance the customer experience.
With that online storefront, it’s become common to see a spike in sales outside regular business hours – between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
“It’s really about understanding our customer base and each guest’s journey,” Ronak said. “We know our customers are tech savvy and regularly shop online. Organic word of mouth is important for our business and without that online presence, we just don’t exist for them.”