P.L.A.Y., which stands for ‘Play, Leisure, Agility, Youth’, is situated on the ground floor of
an art deco style building at Stoke Abbott Road in Worthing town centre.
It comprises a 27 space car park, a 3,000 sq ft Play Area which can hold up to 150 children
and a Café which can accommodate 100 people.
There has been an incredible amount of work gone into getting the building ready for business again after
it being closed for 6 months.
The previous business, known as Fun Junction, had run for 9 years before finally closing its doors on 01/06/07 due to a run of quiet summers. These types of business always suffer in the summer season, and there had
been issues with its Health & Hygiene toward the end of its trading and this had also affected its reputation.
So after 6 months of lying dormant along came Darrell and David, they have known each other 5 years.
Darrell had been supervisor/manager from day 1 of the business opening as Fun Junction right up until the
last day it closed its doors, so he knows the business as well as any could. He had always struggled and been frustrated with
some of the decisions made by the previous owners.
David, a graphic designer with his eye on investing in a new venture, had told Darrell that he would be
interested in going into business together if anything should come up, Fun Junction folded the following year.
When they went to view the property they were dismayed to find there had been a lot of water damage, so
much so that there were doubts of being able to feasibly re-open at all.
2 months were spent By Darrell, his Father Ron and David refurbishing the interior to get it back to meet
with Health & Hygiene standards: they started by repairing the water damage in the Kitchen, Reception and Play Area due
to leaking drainage from the flats above, a problem that had plagued the previous business the throughout its 9 years trading.
They did all this while living on their savings.
Artist John Harragan was brought in to paint the theme effect in the reception area.
David then started repainting the café area giving it a lost temple theme to fit with the jungle theme in the play
area. It took 6 weeks.
Darrell and his Father set to
work on the toilets giving the ladies a complete refit, David helped pulling up the tiles in the gents; not a nice job.
They then started to work on the play area re-arranging the front section slightly, to free up some room, so that there
could be an area where people could watch their children while having their food and drink.
David and Darrell lifted the entire front section 4ft back themselves which was back breaking work.
Money was drying up and the deadline of a Feb 18th opening was drawing near: many friends and colleagues
came to help; too many to mention here but we would like to take the time to say that their help was greatly appreciated,
and, without them, P.L.A.Y. would never had opened at all.
The doors did indeed open 5 minutes late, at on Feb 18th, with people rushing about
right up until the doors opened. David recalls being up a ladder, giving the disabled toilets a fresh lick of paint, at 9am
that morning and Darrell restringing areas of the play area!!
It was a baptism of fire for the first two weeks, new staff and old pulled together to cope with the influx of people.
It got so busy at times in those weeks that even the party rooms had to be opened to give them somewhere to sit!
After the first 2 weeks of madness subsided they set to work converting the Quazar area; it had been a laser tag maze,
which had been ear marked for conversion into a Health & Beauty salon for all ages.
They spent the following month ripping out the maze, then creating a new area to house the 7 toning tables, sun bed,
reflexology, massage and aroma therapy rooms.
Bizzi Bodies opened its doors on March 18th under management of Sue Humphrey-Roberts.
There are four party rooms at P.L.A.Y.,
the artwork in the two larger rooms was not really in keeping with the new theme of the cafe so Nicolas Samiotis, creative
designer & prop maker, also a personal friend, was commissioned to do an Atlantis theme, of which he did a fantastic job.
Darrell and David had not had a day
off since they had been given the keys to the building on 24th December and started work up until around the end
of March and although things are starting to calm down the work is far from done.
The Food and Drink area at the front
of the play area is yet to constructed and three new rooms are to be built in the space that is left where Quazar used to
be behind Bizzi Bodies.
To keep costs down David has created
all the logo, poster and leaflet designs in house.
Darrell and David are working towards Darrell’s personal Dream, to ensure that children with physical and learning disabilities are
also welcomed and catered for at PLAY, PLAY is dedicated to children with Learning difficulties at a discounted rate, including
their siblings: only one local community group is currently taking advantage of this time and the great facilities. Darrell
would love to have contact with other, similar groups within the local community, to come and take advantage of this time,
which could, if there is enough regular attendance be extended to two hours.
All this and the summer season has
just begun with 100 parties catered for already.
Its not all good news however, yesterday
there were just 2 customers for the whole day, but it is the nature of the business.
Its great to have the lovely sunny
weather but it’s a tough time for P.L.A.Y. to get through.
All they can do is continue to make
the improvements and pray for rain.