Monkey Business is Serious Business at Jungle Joe’s
Monkey Business is Serious Business at Jungle Joe’s
After 3.5 years in the cafe and indoor playspace business, Angela Holt knows what her customers want and how to keep them coming back. Learn from Angela on her trials and successes of owning and operating Jungle Joe’s in Frisco.
[00:34] Intro to Jungle Joe’s
[01:40] Focus on the food
[03:38] Age range for kids
[05:20] Better parties for your kids (and you)
[09:30] Football Sunday’s at Jungle Joe’s
[12:56] Seasonal camps
[16:45] Lessons learned after 3.5 years in business
LINKS & RESOURCES:
- Jungle Joe’s Website
- Jungle Joe’s on Lifestyle Frisco
- Jungle Joe’s on Instagram
- Jungle Joe’s on Facebook
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco on:
Welcome to the Frisco podcast. I’m your host Kelly Walker. I’m filling in today and I’m happy because I get to chat with Angela Holt. How are you Angela? I’m good, thank you. How are you? I’m great. So this is funny cause this is not your first time joining us on the Frisco podcast. Right, right. So we love Jungle Joe’s so much that we keep working with you and wanting to let people in Frisco know all about Jungle Joe’s. So to do that can we just start off with a quick kind of intro and recap kind of what is Jungle Joe’s? Absolutely. Yes. So we are a cafe where kids can play, we call ourselves the kids cafe. We have the structure where the kids can run around and play and all different kinds of kids activities, arts and crafts Monday through Friday. And the parents can come in and chill, relax.
We’re smaller than most indoor plays and they can work, they can have coffee, they can have good food. And then we have other things like birthday parties and camps and all the other kid related items as well. So you are what, three and a half years into Jungle Joe’s? Yes ma’am. Three and a half years. You’ve probably learned a lot right by now and I’m sure things are smoothing out. Um, so some of the things I kind of want to ask you about that maybe have evolved or changed, um, lately since um, some of our listeners have gone into Jungle Joe’s. One thing I noticed last time I was in there, the menu I feel like, and then I know that you do some specials. I saw chicken tacos or something the other day. So yeah, like your menu has um, expanded and maybe evolved and I don’t know all these things.
So tell me about what you guys are doing over there on the cafe side of things. Yeah. Well we have a Jen who has been an employee there for, gosh, almost three years now. So with her help, we’ve been able to bring on some new menu items over the summer. We had a really good roasted veggie wrap and then we had a summer salad with fruit and tomatoes and cucumbers and it was really good. And then she makes a phenomenal tortilla soup that we’re bringing back on the menu for the winter that we’re going to start doing here now that it’s starting to get cold. That sounds good. Yeah, it is. That’s what I think is interesting. It’s not, you know, I’ve, I’ve had plenty of mommy play dates or coffee play dates. Right, right. Um, or coffee meetups. Um, but it’s not your kind of typical like there’s a croissant over there or a donut or I don’t know, pastries here and there.
Like it’s, it’s full-blown fresh, real food that you want to eat. We make everything fresh. Yeah. Nothing is frozen. We roast our vegetables, we make our soup, we make our salad dressings. It’s chemo parables. We do everything. Everything in house. Yes. So then let’s talk about, um, the day parts. So you have breakfast, what are all the different day parts of food you offer? Yes. So we just brought on our brunch menu that we started less than a month ago. So now on Saturdays and Sundays you can come in and not only order off our full menu, but we have a breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon or sausage. Um, we have really, really good homemade methods that are a weekend supervisor makes that are carrot or carrot with chocolate or carrot with nuts. They’re fantastic. Um, and then there’s other things that we’ve always offered, like our breakfast taco and our veggie breakfast taco and different things like that. So there’s a good variety of things that you can order on that menu as well. And that served till one o’clock on Saturday and Sundays.
The brunch menu, the new brunch menu. Okay. I didn’t know about that. I’ll have to check that out. Yeah. And I must say like I don’t have, let’s talk about the age range cause I was going to talk about how Mike, how I relate to Jungle Joe’s. What is the primary age range of the kiddos that are in their playing? I usually say eight and under. Okay.
Kids are welcome, but we are a smaller, we’re 3,500 square feet and the structure is not huge. But that’s the beauty of Jungle Joe’s in the customer feedback we get is that it’s not huge. Parents really can sit and have a nice lunch and talk to their mommy friends and, and grandparents bring in their, their, uh, grandchildren. I actually speak to them a lot and not just them, but a few of them have come up to me lately and just been like, thank you for having a place that we can come and hang out and not have to be running around everywhere and chasing the kid. Yeah.
Be comfortable and not, you know, I have thankfully grandparents that help us with things too and with kids and you know, chaos doesn’t, doesn’t always work well for the grandparents. If they, if they have any kind of fear of losing a kiddo or losing sight of them, it’s not a comfortable place for them to be. So that’s a good point. What I was gonna say is I’ve, my kids have now aged out, um, of really kind of that playground type of age group. But I have still been at Jungle Joe’s recently, so it’s kind of funny because if you have, um, one of my best friends has a little toddler and so sometimes we need a place where I’m going to see her. It’s gotta be a kid friendly place that she can bring him. So it’s a good place even if you don’t have your own kiddos to come play.
Right. Absolutely. As a friend of a person who does and let them have a minute and has some good lunch and hang out. Yeah. And adults are free. So we charge admission for the kids, but adults can come in and hang out and have lunch and are a good, we serve mocha and Java’s coffee there too. So we have really good coffee. That sounds good. Yeah. Okay. So I also have heard, um, that you have a really good birthday party there too, right? I think so, yes. It’s a fabulous strategy. You seen, um, has your birthday parties changed at all over the few years that you’ve been open?
Yes and no. We’ve always gone to the same format, but we’ve really focused on, we want the customers to not have to lift a finger if they don’t want to. Our team, our team is trained that when they walk in, even before we call them, before they party and we go over all the fine details and make sure that we know their food order and we have everything ready to go. They walk in, the host will go over what, what to expect during the party, the timing of the party and then they parents can go and relax and chat and entertain their guests and talk to them while we take care of everything. That’s nice. That’s nice that you communicate with the parent before they have party. Yes. I’ve had plenty of parties where, you know, maybe I have a little bit of a control issue and I do want to know what’s going on.
Um, but I’ve, I kind of have that anxiety like will I be able to bring this in or is someone going to be their hands on helping me set this table up or checking kids in all those little things. So it’s nice that your staff communicates that. We do. Yes. That Monday or Tuesday we have all our parties in front of us. We call each and every one. We make sure we know that what they want cause they are, we have a whole party menu as well. So not only can you order food at the cafe, but we have sandwich platters spending, any platters, kids’ platters, different that pizzas. We don’t make the pizzas in house, but we have somebody that we partner with and yeah, they have, we have a private party this weekend that ordered, you know, a whole 50 different things for that party.
So it’s really good. They, they, it’s more of a, um, not a catering, but they really are taking care of, they can have a full menu. Everybody can eat food and it’s, it’s not junk that you might get, you know, somewhere else. Yeah. Yes. About the adults there especially. Appreciate that. Yeah. What’s your average birthday party look like as far as how many kiddos come to that party? So we have a few options. Uh, we have one room that includes 10 kids, another room that includes 15 kids, but then we also offer private parties and those can have as many kids. Usually we say about 35 at the most just because of the size of our space and we want to make sure that they’re safe while they’re playing. But the private party, they get the whole place to themselves for two hours. So 35 so if you’re, if you had, you know, you invite the whole class or the whole class and your team and all these other people you can fit mostly everybody.
Yes. We have a party of 80 this weekend and then not 80 kids, 80 total. And then even somebody called this weekend booked a baby shower that they have a ceremony that they do for the mother to be and they booked it for three hours. So it’s not just birthday parties that people can book this space. It’s, we’ve had holiday parties with that coming up. We’ve been promoting that as well for $100 off if you want to come and uh, you can, um, order food from us. But we’ve had people that have brought in their own food. We charge a fee for doing that. But we’ve had parties where they had their holiday family get together there so the kids can go run and play while the parents can also, you know, there’s our spaces there for people to rent for any, any purpose that they want. And for the private parties you can be why OB as well. So, yeah. So people will do that. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Forgot about that. I know. The beauty of that is that you can, and I mean,
you know, all of us who’ve had toddlers at some point and young kids, they’re a mess. They make a mess. Your house is, I had a five-year-old party at my house and thought when everyone left, I thought I will never do that again. It’s a disaster. This leaves your house in a disaster. Just a mess. So that is a, a big perk for the parents. You can just, you go and they may, they can make massive somewhere else and we take care of it all. Yup. That’s right. That’s right.
Awesome. And so you also have a, so what about if there’s people standing around this party that wants to watch a game or something
then there might be on TV? Yeah, we show football every Sunday. We’ll really, we can do college football on Saturday too, but we, we advertise and promote that every Sunday we have football on and um, they can come in and watch the game. Dads love it because they have a place that, you know, maybe mom wants a day off and they can come in and watch the football games while they, and then this year we also did a fantasy football league with 10 people. Yeah. There’s 10 people that are on the league. And I’ve really had been bad about keeping up with it because I know you’re a big sports person, but I am not. So I keep asking my husband like we need to get on and like see where everybody’s at and like figure it all out. But that was fun too. Two kids to do the draft and we all got to do that. Yeah.
Do you find that um, dads bring kiddos up like in the mornings? On the weekends? Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know if that’s a, I don’t know if it’s something new or not, but um, in my neighborhood and walking distance, there’s a place that I might take my kiddos for like a donut or something every now and then. And we notice how many dads walk in there with their son or daughters. And it’s just like some, you know, dad and kid time on the weekend mornings and I think it’s so cool, but it’s kind of funny. Like everybody that walks in there lately has been a dad with their kids. So, um, so it’s not just a Jungle Joe’s, isn’t it? Just a mommy and me place, right.
Dads, grandparents, anybody really. Yeah. Another friend, another family just came in. I think I told you that’s why I was late today. A family that from McKinney grandparents, they have their, their grandchildren for the week and they came in to have lunch and, and hang out at Jungle Joe’s. They’d never been in before. So it’s good. And I, and I know them from other business networking and stuff, so it was good to see them come in.
So speaking of, so somebody was there for lunch, um, this is also not a place that’s just like pop in and, and you know, you can stay for an hour and leave. But do you find that people, um, that juggle work at home situations or whatever come up there and actually like you know, camp up for the day and work, work?
Yes. They’re there for awhile. Yeah. They get on our wifi and they stay for hours and that is that, that also I think differentiates us too. It’s not a time limit. And we also, people come in the morning if they want to come back in the afternoon, they play paid admission that day. We allow that too. So it’s really all day depending on how all day play. No. Oh no. It really is common stay. That’s what we always envisioned. Like having a place really where you can come. I mean I’m a working mom, you’re working mom. Sometime you have to have somewhere that you can really just go yeah. And not be like interrupt. Cause then when you’re at home too, you’re interrupted every five minutes. Mom, mom, mom said this, another mom came in last week and said that very thing. She’s like, I knew I had like two hours of work still to do and I thought we’re going to Jungle Joe’s main came in happy and you get to focus on what you need to do on your computer.
Exactly. And then again the house isn’t being ran. Yeah. And they make a mess and you don’t have to clean it up. It’s perfect. Yeah. So the all of the all day play. Right. I think that’s cool. I didn’t realize that that was part of like the admission. It always had been, but we never really advertised it. It was, Oh we, we never had a time limit and we always told people they could come back if they asked. But we, we, we have put it on our website now and started telling people when they came in to are in. Yeah. So that’s awesome. Okay. But then there are situations when you actually can leave your kid and go do something else. It’s not often, but it’s camps. Right. So tell me about your camps. Well, summer camps are huge. We have them every week, um, of summer and they, we really try to customize it for every parent.
So we have one day drop-offs. You can register for the whole week, you can do half a day in the morning, half a day in the afternoon, you can stay all day. And that has been really good for us. Uh, the last few years, but this year we’re also going to do winter break camps. Um, it falls in a weird Christmas and new year’s fall on a weird Wednesday. Not that it’s weird day of the week. Camps are, yeah. So we’ll do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, both weeks. And then spring break. We did that last year and we’ll do spring break camps again this coming year too. So when you do that, is it like Frisco ISD one week only or do you spread that camp out over a few weeks for the spring break and the winter break we followed the Frisco ISD schedule. Yes. Okay. And and with the summer too, but we’re, we do it all summer. How early do you, can you book those things?
Well winter break camps will be up hopefully in the next week or two because we really want to like, we’re advertising with different people too and we want to start getting that out with, with them. So I’m working on that this week. How early does this summer usually show up to register? I’m a, I’m a planner mom, so I always am like, you know, me and the other moms start texting and sharing ideas pretty early for what are we going to do with these kids all summer. I know summer, summer will be up by March this year. Last year I dropped the ball big time. This year we, I, I’ve had a such th we’ve grown so much in the last three years. Like I finally just was like, now I have people in place that it’s been a blessing to be able to kind of like start delegating, which I was really bad at open life of a, of an entrepreneur, right?
You gotta do it all yourself right at first and then it’s hard to let go of some of those Holy ground, my gosh. But now you feel like you’re in a place where you’ve got the help that you need to get some of those things done and you’re not behind the ball. I bet like that example, and we know like, okay now and you know, Rick and I opened this, we thought we knew what we were doing, but we, we had never owned a business before. It’s just him and I, we’re not a franchise. So we’re like, okay, this is how the year goes and now we really know, okay, start planning for this now summer camps and men and March and you know, yeah. For holiday parties. We started advertising in October and yeah, we, we figured it out finally and can predict trends and ups and downs and yes, the planning, that’s probably huge.
Yes. Cause the first year you’re, you’re, you’re operating day to day to figure it out. Right still. Right. But then you realize, Oh, the summer camp, it’s here and we didn’t get a plan or it didn’t do it, you know. Yeah, yeah. We did it. Yeah. You’re getting there. So that you said March. That’s, that’s exactly the younger my kids were, the earlier I start bringing out their summer. Um, the older they have gotten a more, I’m winging it a little more. That’s a little later. Yeah. Like we’d start talking way before school was out when chase was younger and now it’s kinda like, Oh, we’ll figure out, Oh, he wants to go to the field house. Okay, we’ll do the notes. All right. I get, you know, the independence of being able to actually ask them and then when they’re old enough to be lazy a little and stay home, it’s like, okay, yeah.
You know, that’s good for kids. I think that’s good for kids. Yeah, exactly. Some downtime at home and not always have something planned out. Right. Like it’s like the old back in the day, summers have just go outside and find something to do. Yeah. So I bet you have, you and your husband have learned a lot over the three and a half years. What, you know, what advice do you have when people come up to you and say, um, I’m admiring what you did but it’s scary. What do you say to those people? And we have had a couple people that have moved out of the area and said, Oh, we’re thinking of doing this. And I’ve, I have reached out to them again. Um, just, it doesn’t matter how much research you do or how plan do you think you are, it’s never going to be what you think it is.
And that was, that was hard for my husband. He’s not, he’s like the, that didn’t do, you know, none of this is happening like you had on the spreadsheets, all your projections. This is not what we thought was going to happen. But you know, we’ve been open for three years now and we have seen the increase each year and we just had to really sit back and say okay and you know, make things change things. We changed a lot of things that like even when I was just talking about how I dropped the ball on summer camps last year, I actually thought I’m not going to do summer camps this year and focus on the cafe cause we’re a cafe. And then I really looked back at what we did in summer camps the year previously and I was like, that is a huge mistake. I ha, you know, and, and moms were asking where, why aren’t you doing summer camps?
Or we want to be here for the summer. Our kid loved it last year when we were here. So it really has been a journey of okay and lots of prayer and you know, just is this the right thing? And going with my gut and just saying, okay, there’s a reason. And I don’t know if I’ve ever shared with you, and I know I haven’t shared with anybody that’s listening, that we came to Frisco with this idea and we couldn’t find any place and we had a spine McKinney that we were so excited about. And then it got w we signed the lease and then the landlord changed his mind. So then we gave up and we were like, we’re not going to do this. And I, I’m a realtor. That’s what I did for 15 years in San Diego and I was just going to go back to real estate. And then Rick found this spot that we’re in now offer Hillcrest enroller, rollator roller. [inaudible]
that’s it. Um, and so I felt, and I still feel like it was meant to be, like that was the plan all along. God put us here for a reason and we were like, okay. And now whenever I think of that, I just, I always keep thinking, keep going, like don’t give up. And not that we need to give up because our businesses isn’t successful. Don’t give up because it is so much more work than you ever ever think it’s going to be. Yeah. And so hard. Like you think you have an employee and things are okay and you can take a step back and then you find out it’s not the case. They it or they were doing some, you know, you always have to be on. Yeah. You always have to be on. You always have to be thinking what’s next. You always have to project. I mean it’s just, it’s, it really is nonstop and it has been hard for Rick, like I said, just to kind of see like he worries about me working so much, but we just actually had this conversation like not even a month ago where I was like, but I really can’t imagine doing anything else. Like if I were to not ever have open Jungle Joe’s, what would I be doing now? And this is what I love. Like I do. I love it a lot. So that was a really long answer.
I love it. You can tell you love it a lot because it’s, you’re, you’re living it. You, you’re there. Are you turning on the lights every day? Are you [inaudible] okay. I’m not, no, I there every day. And you’re, you’re invested in the menu and you know, you’re listening to your, your customers tell you things about, you know, summer camp. You need to be here. Yeah. I was going to say, do you have, um, an inner circle of people? Maybe it’s just you, maybe it’s your husband and you that you can bounce those ideas off of. So when you say, I’m not going to have summer camp and then you realize, wait, I should, is that all just your inner monologue or do you have a, uh, a council of people that help?
I don’t. I do, but I don’t like I have people that I throw things at my best friend, I talk to her a lot. She’s a business woman and I am always like, Oh gosh, this is, you know, am I doing this or whatever. But for the most, and that was very hard because in real estate you have people that you collaborate with or like, Hey, I have this buyer or I’m going to list this house, what should I, you know, what do you think about these comps or whatever. But with this I was on my own and I really honestly thought I would have a S I didn’t realize the employee turnover that we would have. And I did recently just lose a manager. So to answer, I’m not there every day and I wasn’t there that much when I had the manager. But then I started to see, I do need to keep, I need to be, they’re not there so much physically, just kind of overseeing everything a little bit more.
Yeah. So, so staffing is sounds like the big one of the biggest challenge. The biggest, yeah. And anybody that has to hire people will see that. And, and I, we had a brokerage where I had other agents that worked for us, but it wasn’t, and nowadays like I feel like you have a conversation with employee and you’re just kinda saying, Hey, you know, how can I help you, you know, get to here because this is what, you know, what we expect or whatever and it’s, it’s not just a, Oh, okay, let me try to do it. It’s, I’m not doing this anymore. You know, a lot of times and it’s not even a, like it’s just a conversation and a lot of times they’re just like, ah, this is not what I want to do. It sounds like that that staffing, you know, issue or challenge, it isn’t even related to the business that you’re trying to run specifically.
You know, it’s not about the actual business model, it’s just the people getting the right person in that will be there in the long haul is a lot harder than it sounds. Huh. It’s so hard. But like I said, Jen has been with me for three years. She is my GoTo person. I do run a lot of things off her. She makes, she runs the kitchen. She is absolutely in charge there. I let her do her own things and then you have that. Yeah. And other people have cycled in and out. But she has been with me for a while and now I do have somebody sharing that we’ll run the kitchen on the weekends. So like I said, I don’t have to be there every day, but I do have, yeah. Do you get to actually like leave town and I do be gone.
Yeah. With those two I’m able to, like, we all kind of like say, okay, this is our schedule. I won’t be here. Or if they’re off, like if Sharon can’t work a weekend then I know that I’ll have to go in and kind of help out. But, and then I do have to say I have a high school student who’s been with me over a year who can now run the kitchen. That’s pretty amazing. Her name is Maya, she’s awesome. And she has been a huge, I’ve seen her grow so much so that and see that’s what I mean. Like I sound like it’s all negative with employees. It’s really not like I have good ones. It’s just sure the amount of tuna turnover was surprising. Yeah. And that takes a lot of energy and emotional energy to keep up with having the stuff you need. Right. I bet. Right, right. Yeah. So now you can, you know, take off and vacation. I bet that’s different from your first year. Your first year. Were you
just 24, seven
every day. Every day. Yeah. And I was so tired and I think that’s kind of, Rick saw that and he was like, Oh my gosh. Like that. My other good friend that used to live in round rock moved to Boise, Idaho and I’m going to go stay with her, um, in November for my birthday. And so yes, I do, I’m able to travel and Rick and I have been taking Sundays off with our son and we’ve gone to see to Tyler state park and then we just went to the pilot point’s the park. Since we’ve lived here, I’ve never really seen this part of Texas because we’re not a chance. Right. And that’s what I’m starting to see. I’m like, wow, it’s beautiful. It’s like beautiful parts. It Texas over here. I’m just so in Frisco.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, as a business owner, that’s one of the commitments. Yes. That you’re there. But I love that you’re not, I’m not far away from it, but you’re three and a half years then you have the ability now to go and enjoy your personal time and have the staff around you that can support that for you. So spend time with my son. Yes. 11 now. So yes. That’s good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s probably a put in some, you know, sacrifices himself to, to wait this out and them now. I’m glad you guys get to go enjoy your, your family time. It’s great. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you for jumping in here with us. I know that, I know you’re busy. I know you’re in the cafe all the time and um, keep coming up with new things for Jungle Joe’s, for everybody to enjoy. So I appreciate you coming in and giving us the update. You,
you, y’all are awesome. You know, really enjoyed being, you know, knowing all of you guys at Lifestyle. For sure.
Yeah. We go way back right to the beginning of, I mean, I don’t know. We, I feel like we’ve had a relationship with you from the beginning. We have, yeah. Yeah. Pulled together since that, since the beginning. Yes. We love supporting you and sending people your way because we love your concept and, and you guys as owners, so thank you so much. Thank you.