New play café planned for York city centre – complete with dinosaurs

Dinosaurs Love Fairy Cakes founders Amy Shannon and Zoe Paterson

A new play café is planned for York city centre, and local families are being urged to help bring the plans to fruition.

Dinosaurs Love Fairy Cakes, which runs events for young children in York and which has run temporary play cafes before, wants to create a two-storey venue in the heart of the city centre.

They are submitting a planning application to convert the old Toymaster shop in Market Street, which was previously the Early Learning Centre. If everything goes to plan, the new venue will open in March.


The company has reached the final of a business competition run by Crowdfunder and Natwest, and will launch an online fundraising page at 10am on Monday to try to realise their dream.

In an email to supporters, the company’s founders Amy Shannon and Zoe Paterson said: “A successful crowdfunding campaign at this point is crucial. It’ll show other investors just how much families in York want this to happen and the hope is that they’ll then follow suit.”

Family hang-out

Venue: Toymaster on Market Street. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Amy told YorkMix they had looked at three other venues before the Market Street one but it had been perfect.

She said:

  • Our vision is for a high-quality play café. There will be a lovely dinosaur-themed play café and upstairs there will be a space where parents and children can enjoy hanging out, with a drink and good-quality simple food.

    The basement has been a store room, and that will become an event space where we can run groups or where other people and groups can come in and do events. It will also be very child-friendly.

    We have been so well-supported already and we are going to shout about this as loudly as we can to make the crowdfunding a success.

    We are very community-minded and very passionate about breaking up the monotony, especially for stay-at-home parents. It gives grandparents somewhere to go as well, and we want to do some work at some point around maternal and paternal mental health.

    Parents all want places where the toys are clean and people are friendly and where you can make friends.

She said most of the food would be made off-site through trusted suppliers, and said they would be looking at a separate planning application to add a lift, to ease access.

Improve mental health

A dinosaur train set ready for the café
Amy said that in term-time, the focus would be on pre-schoolers but said that in school holidays there would be more for school-aged children, and they hoped to also attract families visiting York, and people from towns and villages around York as well.

Dinosaurs Love Fairy Cakes

“A lot of families are realising that we need play in city centres, and we hope this has a knock-on effect for the high street as well as improving mental health and play opportunities,” said Amy.

Dinosaurs Love Fairy Cakes set up as a limited business in 2018, and runs various events in the city. It runs babes in arms and little stompers groups at Spark in Piccadilly on Tuesdays and Fridays respectively, and pizza and play sessions for pre-schoolers at Ask in Blake Street on Wednesday mornings. It had previously run a temporary play café in the Quaker meeting house in Friargate.

The crowdfunder initiative is the Back Her Business Side Hustles competition, supported by Natwest and Crowdfunder, and the Dinosaurs Love Fairy Cakes page will go live at 10am on Monday at crowdfunder.co.uk/dinosaurs-love-fairy-cakes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *