Owners of new Maidenhead café want to 'kickstart' Queen Street

The owners of a new play cafe in Queen Street say they want to breathe new life into this area of town ahead of their opening later this month.

Chai Cocoa will open at 83 Queen Street and is the brainchild of Pavan Badesha, husband Gurdip Singh and her brother Rav Atwhal.

The new business will offer parents a space to enjoy a hot drink and some food while letting their children play safely to offer an alternative to existing soft play centres.

It will be focused on sustainability, with the table tops made from recycled cosmetic bottles, a seasonal menu and sustainable materials used in the build of the cafe, with attention paid to restore as much of the building as possible.

There will also be a space inside the cafe for parents to buy eco-friendly items for their children, such as baby bottles.

Pavan, who lives in Maidenhead, has a background in the corporate sector and has helped firms such as Thames Water with their environmental drives, with this being her first taste of the hospitality world.

She said she was inspired to take on this new venture after being made redundant two years ago and, as a parent herself, wanting more spaces made available for adults and their little ones in the town centre.

“We realised there was a need for somewhere for parents to relax and have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat while their kids play safely,” Pavan added.

A children’s area – called Cocoa Cubs – will encourage youngsters to understand the importance of the environment, with a tree centred play frame forming the centre of the conversation.

The cafe will also run classes with local youngster groups and will offer sensory spaces for those who need it.

“We are really excited to get the doors open – it has been a long journey and was a bit of a now or never moment about two years ago after being made redundant,” Pavan said.

“COVID has had its devastating effects on so many people and it held up the project substantially, but we are where we are now and we’re really excited.

“It is a daunting process and it is going to be a challenge but with the right team we can really make it work.”

The trio are putting the finishing touches to the space and getting some consumer feedback before hoping to open in a few weeks’ time, Pavan said.

She added that the team looked at different locations across Maidenhead – including the recently rejuvenated waterways part of town and eventually settled on Queen Street.

“We definitely wanted to go for the town centre because we felt there was a need for somewhere to walk to rather than drive, with sustainability in mind,” Pavan added.

“We thought it would be great to bring something to the area where there are businesses that do not get lots of footfall at the moment – some times it takes one business to kickstart something new and it is a lovely corner plot.

“We’re looking forward to bringing new faces to this part of the town.”

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