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La Grange

Play time

Ada Miller (from left), 10 months; Grace Newman, 14 months; and their moms Meredith Miller and Cassidy Newman have fun at Waterlemon in La Grange on March 22. They're all from the Beverly neighborhood in Chicago.
Ada Miller (from left), 10 months; Grace Newman, 14 months; and their moms Meredith Miller and Cassidy Newman have fun at Waterlemon in La Grange on March 22. They're all from the Beverly neighborhood in Chicago.

LA GRANGE - Waterlemon is not your typical indoor playground. And no, that’s not a spelling error.

A fun play-on-words of children’s common mispronunciations of difficult words, Waterlemon seeks to bring a warm, cozy space for children and parents alike to spend time together.

Located in the heart of downtown La Grange, the sleek and stylish indoor play space offers a creative area for children to explore, a cafe and retail shop all in one.

Paul and Nina Joseph Makovski, the married minds behind the business, started conceptualizing the idea five years ago in Los Angeles, where they met. They would often go to indoor play spaces in Southern California and comment on their creativity, spurring them to consider opening their own similar company in Chicago.

“We wanted to build on those ideas, but take it to the next level and include a retail element,” Nina said.

The idea wasn’t fully kicked into gear until the two saw the glaring need for such spaces with their own 8-month old child.

“When we moved back to Chicago, we discovered we really didn’t have anywhere to take [our daughter],” Nina said. “It was the middle of winter, and she wasn’t quite walking. So we found ourselves going to a couple of places like local libraries and indoor parks, but she was too small to really enjoy them.”

They soon tried some places in the city similar to the ones they’d seen in California, and in early 2018, the couple decided to make Waterlemon a reality. After entertaining a number of different Chicago neighborhoods, the Makovski’s settled on La Grange.

“I just have such fond and warm memories of being a kid in downtown La Grange and frequenting the businesses,” Nina said. “Being in this area felt like being home again. It came full circle.”

Waterlemon set up shop in the old Hobby Center on South La Grange Road, which the owners felt was a perfect size for the business space. After filling it with with the appropriate play areas, retail inventory and sweet treats, the Makovski's opened Watermelon's doors about three months ago.

To fully understand why Waterlemon is so special, Nina recommended anyone curious should visit.

“When you imagine an indoor playground, that conjures up certain notions or images from places maybe we grew up going to,” she said. “But what we think we have here is a much more intimate, unique indoor play space that feels bright and light and modern.

"We specifically chose a smaller footprint because we wanted to create an environment for parents and children to spend quality time together using their imagination and creativity to create memories.”

Even outside of the children’s play space, Waterlemon boasts space to host private parties up to 45 people. Older siblings and family members are invited to spend time at the play space and bring puzzles, tablets, homework or books to pass the time.

Since its opening, Waterlemon has been busy everyday, and the reaction from the community has been nothing but “absolutely amazing,” Nina said.

“We have been so incredibly honored and blessed and fortunate to have gotten the feedback we’ve gotten so far,” she said.

As for the future of Waterlemon, Nina said she and her husband have dreams of where they want the business to go, but they are focusing on what they have for the moment.

“I would be lying if I said we didn’t have dreams of expansion,” she said. “I think that’s the dream of every small business owner. But right now my husband and I are very much concentrating and pouring our hearts and time into really building this location and making sure it’s on solid footing. We want to give the community what it wants.”

Waterlemon is located at 25 South La Grange Road. Unit A. For more information about hours and offerings, visit https://waterlemonkids.com.

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