New indoor play place business in Monroeville Mall survives through pandemic, plans to expand

When Regina Adams launched her business in the Monroeville Mall a few weeks before the covid-19 pandemic started, she had no idea she’d have to turn around and close it again.

Adams, 35, of Penn Hills opened the doors to Lil Bunny Indoor Playground and Party Place in February 2020. For the few weeks she was open, the new business thrived. The concept revolves around giving mothers an opportunity to take their kids somewhere to blow off steam — even during cold or bad weather.

So the February launch was perfect. The business brought in many customers, she said. But the pandemic meant she lost all those clients and any built up momentum. She stayed closed for the better part of 2020.

“We reopened in October. We basically had to start all over again,” she said. “But people are supporting us. It’s not as great as it’s supposed to be, but we’re still OK.”

Adams moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2009 from Russia and shortly thereafter married her first husband. She lived in the area as a student under her university’s student-exchange program during the summer of 2006. She said she loved the experience and made a lot of friends.

In 2013, she married again to the man who owns PGH Crepes Food Truck, Ilmir Adams. She now has three children — ages 8, 5 and 3 – and is able to take them to work. They love it, she said.

“They could stay (at the indoor playground) all day, every day,” Regina Adams said.

That’s the way she wanted it. “I’m doing what I wanted to do all the time,” Adams said. “The kids are studying online, I’m working.”

The income from her husband’s food truck was able to carry Regina’s Lil Bunny business through the uncertainty, she said. But she’s glad they were able to open again.

Since then, business has grown. Adams expects to open a second location at Edgewood Towne Center by the end of May.

And she hopes to offer other mothers the chance to open up a Lil Bunny place through franchising.

“But I want to make it affordable,” she said. “When I was looking at how to do this, there were some franchises that needed $300,000 to $500,000. That was too much.”

Adams is currently working with Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship to figure out a plan for franchising the business at a price point of around $70,000 to $80,000.

“It will depend on square footage of the place, but I want it to be around that (price),” Adams said.

Anne Flynn Schlicht, director of the college’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, said she thinks Adams has a good business model, and she’s excited to see her business grow.

“She’s very determined and motivated to move her business forward,” Schlicht said.

Chatham’s center gives people, primarily women and minorities, small-business assistance through virtual consultations. She said Adams is one of around 300 clients supported in the past year.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .