Parents of young kids revel in the rare and brief moments when they can let their kids run free without engaging in an obligatory safety chase. Little Hoppers Café, situated in Morgan Park near Mount Greenwood, provides the perfect venue for a quick breather. 

Customers walking toward the entrance of the corner spot, tucked in next to a handful of thriving local businesses, will be met with wafts of sweet barbecue aromas from a new firemen-owned takeout nearby. Beth Gavin, brand new proprietor of the combination playroom and coffee shop, describes the surrounding area as a “neighborhood with strong community.’

While Little Hoppers opened in 2020, the business was sold this past May. Gavin, a mom whose background is in education, is clearly excited to share her detailed vision for this new endeavor. In addition to open play time, she wants to host more activities that “facilitate growth and happiness for the whole family,” such as yoga and storytime with local authors. She also wants to expand the coffee shop element with additional seating, and to implement more consistent business hours. Mainly, she said, she wants to “keep it simple.”

And it is! As I paid for admission at the counter, my two-year-old was eager to go climb the castle, wind a wooden train around its track, and stack Legos. I sipped a latte while she busied herself with a pretend kitchen.

Parks have their time and place for the littlest among us, but parents or caregivers still need a quiet but sociable and safe spot bound by four walls when the rain won’t go away. Libraries are nice too, but they don’t serve a sometimes-necessary pick-me-up while your toddler knocks over a bin of plastic bananas for the eighth time.

Little Hoppers Café, 2760 W.111th St.. Monday–Saturday, 9am–1pm. (773) 366-3774,

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