New cafe and children's playcenter hopes to become catalyst for east downtown Dearborn development

An emergency room doctor in Detroit, Moneer Abdo wasn’t sure where he was going to relocate after completing his medical training in Ann Arbor. A friend offered his east Dearborn home for rent, at least until Abdo made up his mind.

So Abdo, who grew up in East Dearborn. took his young family and moved back into the old neighborhood. He’s glad he did.

Moneer AbdoNot only have the Abdos planted their roots in his old hometown, but Abdo has also gone all in, opening a two-story play center for children and fully operational café for their parents and family.

It’s called Kidcadia. Abdo and co-owner Nasser Mozep opened the play café on Sunday, Aug. 11.

"When I moved back, I realized that there are a ton of kids, especially in east Dearborn, without a lot of places to go, and especially in the winter," Abdo says.

"Dearborn is a great town. In east Dearborn, I want this to be an anchor there. In creating this new attraction, hopefully, this becomes a place where more businesses want to come to.

"The fact that we can do this in east Dearborn is one of our proudest moments."

Abdo first got the idea for a play café while on a family visit to Chicago. There, the Abdos visited a small play café. Adults would enjoy drinks and treats from an espresso bar while the children ran about. It was an idea that would linger for years.

While Abdo characterizes the Chicago play café as a small but cool concept, his own play café has become something altogether different.

"My initial idea was small in scale too, but it ended up morphing into something much, much bigger," he says.

To start, Kidcadia features a 4,500 sq. ft. play structure for the children, as well as a 600 sq. ft. playspace reserved for toddlers. There is a zipline, trampoline, and play area for magnetic blocks. There’s a light gallery where kids can write with light. There’s even a human-size Lite Brite, a super-sized version of the decades-old classic toy.

Abdo takes pride in every little detail, working with an artist for months to develop 13 custom coloring book pages.

Because it was a full-scale renovation of the building, Abdo was able to totally customize Kidcadia. Every wall down to every faucet, he says, was built with Kidcadia in mind. Green and white custom-built furniture complements the overall concept.

"In looking for an identity, a brand, we liked the idea of an enchanted forest, so there’s a lot of bright greens that give the feeling of being outside," Abdo says.

"The attention to detail can be found in every inch of the place."

An important distinction and one that he believes separates Kidcadia from other play cafes, is that the business is not a play center that happens to offer adults coffee as they wait. Abdo says that Kidcadia is more of a 50-50 split; as much attention has gone into pleasing the adults as it has the children.

Kidcadia features a two-story café complete with a full espresso bar. A fully operational kitchen will feature signature sandwiches, soups, and salads. Construction of the kitchen should wrap up within the month.

To ensure quality, Abdo says he is employing the sous vide style of cooking, where food is placed in vacuum-sealed bags and cooked in water. He believes theirs to be one of the only commercial kitchens around to do so.

While Kidcadia won’t celebrate their grand opening for another week or two, the business is officially open and running normal hours.

"It’s been pretty incredible to see people’s reactions," he says.

Kidcadia Play Cafe is located at 13939 Michigan Ave. in east downtown Dearborn.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.