What we are
Play à La Mode is a 3,200 sqft classy play café facility that’s main attraction is a play area featuring a climber, (pretend) trees, café, school, gym, salon, vet, supermarket and workshop that make up a village all on padded flooring! There is also a racetrack, cars, soft play, a sensory station, make-believe outdoorsy section, puzzle/book area, ice cream truck, couch and much more! Our separate spacious party room is even entirely customizable to any vision, featuring a luscious hedge wall for private events.
Rita Karapatakis, Founder & Owner
Growing up, Rita has spent most of her life in Nassau County. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and went off to become a professional makeup artist based in The Hamptons, certified in all makeup genres. While doing this, she babysat in her spare time. Rita had always loved children from a young age and her ultimate goal is to have a profession that allows her to be completely present in her future children’s lives.
She developed a true passion for childcare when she moved to the Three Village area in 2018 and eventually started nannying full-time (while doing makeup artistry in her spare time). When researching for a padded play center to bring one of the children to enjoy in their reckless stage, she found a play café that was far from the area, and “babyish”. The idea dawned on her in that moment (as she was contemplating opening a daycare but was unsure) what a great idea it was and that she definitely wanted to go the play café route, bring it closer, and make it upper scale than the typical, for Three Village families (and beyond) to enjoy.
For an entire year following that, she made countless sacrifices to make her dreams come true and put her heart and soul into creating this establishment. With hard work and resilience through what seemed like endless hurdles, Play à La Mode was born in historical Three Village at 254 Main Street East Setauket, NY 11733 and officially opened its doors on May 1, 2023. “À La Mode” translates to “in the fashion,” as Rita’s vision for the space was for it to be trendy and cool for guardians to hangout locally and have their kids’ birthday parties. She also has plans to expand services.
Every detail that can and can’t be seen have been meticulously chosen with high quality and care, with the children's health in mind from the cafe options to the non-toxic materials, finishes and substances (including cleaning supplies). Books and messages throughout the facility were carefully chosen to spread positive messages, affirmations and actions as kindness and manners are very important to her to instill in the development of great little humans. The entire facility was a different business when she undertook it and she brought it through a complete and total renovation beginning from even perfecting the air quality.
As the children she cared for mean the absolute world to her, the little café and workshop in Play à La Mode’s play village are named after them (Quinn & Wesley).
Rita often says that she became comfortable with being very uncomfortable. Just like she always told the children under her care, “You can do ANYTHING.” She would like us to all feel inspired and know that we can, too. Rita hopes to contribute fun, kindness and support to the community while supporting other small business owners like herself along the way, as she knows that creating a start-up brick and mortar is not for the faint of heart.