NEST Hatches New Location in Chestnut Hill


When people ask Jessica Ender where she came up with the idea for NEST, her next-generation play space, she doesn’t hesitate to tell them it was over a few drinks.

Chatting with her husband, Farrell, in a bar in Queen Village about six years ago, Ender told him about her idea to open a pop-up play date-type of child enrichment and activity center — she heard about a similar place in New York that specialized in child enrichment where everything caregivers and their charges needed was in one location. After listening to her, he suggested she open her own version.
Ender is one of six co-owners of NEST — three couples, five of whom were childhood friends. She and her husband work with Raina and Matt Gorman and Hara and Scott Caplan.
Ender grew up in a large Jewish family, and that family environment has extended into NEST.
“Everything in me stems from my Jewish upbringing,” she said. “The idea of having a warm, homelike community definitely comes from my experience growing up in Jewish culture and traditional Jewish values.”
 The first NEST opened in Center City in August 2011; the second location, in Chestnut Hill, which opened in August, celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 10 with a group of loyal members and city officials who participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“The reason we created NEST was because there’s never been anything like it,” she added. “For me, the whole community aspect of NEST was really what I felt to stand out about it and what makes it different from any other place.”
Ender said they all wanted to open NEST so parents could have a place to go with their children and takes classes, play, eat and meet up with friends.
“When we were three families with young kids, we found that there was nowhere that you could go and have it be a second home, a place where you can do everything,” she added.
 NEST allows parents to socialize with a community and also enjoy time with their children.
 “Anyone with young kids or a baby can attest to the fact that it can be lonely,” said Ender, a mother of three girls. “It can be really isolating, and this is a place where you can be comfortable. If you didn’t have a friend to meet up with, you had friends there.”
Andrea Schwartz goes to the Center City location twice a week for interactive classes with her 2-year-old son, including the gym-like Little Monsters class or Preschool Bound enrichment class.
She’s been taking classes at NEST since her son was 8 weeks old. He was born in the winter, and she wanted to find an activity where they could get out of the house.
“As a new mom, you can kind of go crazy just sitting at home with a baby,” she chuckled. “Especially during the winter, it’s a really good place to take your kids because in the summertime you can go to the playground and do things outside, but it can be a really long winter stuck in the house.”
NEST offers a wide array of classes and playtimes, ranging from the basics like Hatchlings — where parents and their newborns get together — to the preparatory classes of Preschool Bound. The space also provides whatever parents may need like food and wipes.
“They just have a lot to offer and it’s really convenient,” she said.
Schwartz also gets to meet other parents.
“You can meet a lot of other moms like yourself there,” she said. “It’s a lot better when you’re talking about things going on with other people than going through it all on your own.”
Ender said they’ve been looking to expand the NEST brand, and when the beloved children’s play space The Little Treehouse in Chestnut Hill closed, they decided to take it.
“We saw an opportunity to fill that space with a similar and improved type of product,” she explained. “I have a large, very close family. It seems like everything I do tries to replicate that.”
They hope to continue expanding, possibly into South Jersey and the Radnor/Wayne area.
“The overall goal is to provide a place where families can come and be a part of a community,” Ender said, while also providing a safe home or place of refuge in a family environment.
“It’s the feeling of family. You walk in, our staff knows your name, your child’s name, your story,” she added. “It’s just a different culture at NEST that’s much more in depth.”
She said NEST usually has about 400 families who are members, which can fluctuate from up to 500 in peak times like January to 300 in the dead of summer.
“It really brings something valuable. One of the things we found in our Philly location is it really fills a need, something that parents just don’t have, and it’s become so appreciated and that’s really been the most rewarding thing about it,” she said.
Contact:; 215-832-0737


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