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The logo contest winner was Alton High School sophomore Zoe Mack.
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Alton High School senior Malinda Ulery created a tree mural.
ALTON — Riverbender.com Community Center announces the new Dragonfly Family Café, opening on the second floor of what has been primarily known as a teen center.
Owner John Hentrich opened the doors of the Riverbender.com Community Center in 2010 with the help of many volunteers and local donors. The organization is adding to its mission of serving area youths by including more for younger children and younger families.
Hentrich encouraged the idea of a family café after local moms DeeDee Altenbernd and Lara Talsky presented him with their vision in June. Alton is known for its beautiful parks and outdoor play spaces, but Altenbernd and Talsky felt it is lacking indoor play spaces.
“Children are people, too, whose needs are quite different from adults,” Talsky said. “We wanted a place where children are not just tolerated but encouraged to be themselves, while allowing adults to relax and socialize with each other. This can be challenging with young children at a typical restaurant. Alton needed something special and unique for families.”
Altenbernd desired a center where she could spend quality time with her husband or girlfriends while her only child socialized with other children in a safe, nurturing atmosphere. In August, Altenbernd was hired as development director for the Riverbender.com Community Center while Talsky volunteers as creative director for the café.
The new café is one of the only family cafés in Illinois south of Chicago. The café’s mission is to bring the community together through the family dining experience.
“We have created an atmosphere that is safe and encouraging for children and also provides a dining experience for families within the Riverbender.com Community Center,” Hentrich said. “Our center is educational and lots of fun for the entire family. We have served the teenage population for over four years and now we are inviting them to bring the entire family by providing a space complete with a two-story playhouse, games, train tables, climbing tree, dress-up area, art center, free wifi, and more. The Dragonfly Family Café is truly as cool as it sounds! Grab a bite, a drink, or just a moment by yourself, while the children play and explore.
Chef Jason Harrison has been chosen to open the student-operated café in partnership with Riverbender.com Community Center and mentor students as part of a new internship program. Students’ experience will include ordering, accounting, inventory, cooking, menu and logo creation.
Harrison said he believes “being successful goes further than the four walls of the center. My goal for the internship program is to create a positive trajectory which allows the youth to be creative in the café as well as the center.”
The menu will offer healthy choices appealing to all ages at affordable prices.
The center will host a fall festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, and reveal the Dragonfly room. The official opening of the café will be Friday, Oct. 10. Dinner will be offered every Friday during the center’s Open Play from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
In the near future, the café will host programs targeting younger children such as storytimes, puppet shows, and Mommy and Me activity classes.
The community center provides a venue to host parties and groups such as school field trips, church events, moms groups and homeschooling families. The café offers a place to host a shower or birthday party.
Visit http://riverbender.com/communitycenter for information on The Riverbender.com Community Center or to make an event reservation.