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Massive kids entertainment centre and eatery opening in Kamloops industrial park

Owner of Zaaz Eatery and Play in Kamloops, Samantha O'Callaghan with her two children.
Owner of Zaaz Eatery and Play in Kamloops, Samantha O'Callaghan with her two children.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Tracey Mounsey Photography

A colourful and imaginative large-scale entertainment space for families is opening soon in Kamloops.

Zaaz Eatery and Play is designed like a brightly coloured village that extends out through a seemingly endless 10,000-square-foot building.

“Every kid-sized house or play area represents a different business, a local place of cultural significance, or a local health and safety service where kids can play and learn,” said owner and creative entrepreneur Samantha O’Callaghan.

Each little play structure is managed in partnership with professionals of the businesses and services they represent, who will host games, activities and presentations for the kids.

It is a design model that pulls the entire community together to educate and connect kids in a fun and interactive way.

“We want kids to get to know their community and the people in it,” O’Callaghan said. “It is a creative network where we work together to support each other and cross promote.”

While the facility is under construction and the floors are covered with building supplies, it is easy to see the end vision taking shape.

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Throughout the facility there are big, bright murals painted by local artists to mimic the back alley art museum seen on the walls of buildings around downtown Kamloops.

One of many murals on painted on the walls of Zaaz Eatery and Play at 425 Mount Paul Way in Kamloops.
One of many murals on painted on the walls of Zaaz Eatery and Play at 425 Mount Paul Way in Kamloops.

At the entrance of the building is a painted model of a residential house with a nursery inside, a bold yellow façade with an art station inside, and a gift shop.

“The front of the nursery will look like a little front yard,” O’Callaghan said. “The art station is going to have a big painted bumblebee on it and space above where we will showcase kids’ art pieces.

“We are doing a consignment gift shop in partnership with several local companies.”

Through a hallway is a kid-sized police station complete with jail bars, and firefighting and paramedic stations.

“There is a whole play structure and mural in this section,” O’Callaghan said. “It is very interactive. We’ll set up calls that firefighters and paramedics typically respond to, to increase health education for the older kids.”

Further down the hall is a station created in partnership with T’kemlups First Nation that is a replica of the Pow Pow Arbour, an important meeting place on the reservation, with art on the front featuring the coyote story.

“That is an important Kamloops story,” she said. “They are going to paint other culturally significant story characters on all of their walls. We are doing language and cultural events together in the future.”

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One station is a room that represents Royal Inland Hospital.

“We’ll put a helicopter pad on the top and Chris Bose who did the Indigenous mural at the new hospital tower is coming to paint a replica of the mural,” O’Callaghan said. “Every month focuses on a different health specialty like cardiology and diabetes. Physicians come in to do health education for the kids.”

Moving toward the middle of the giant building is a campsite area for play, and a construction zone with a large wooden crane and sand pit. There is a maze, an obstacle course, a grocery market, a tiny gym and countless other shops. 

“We have little rowing machines and treadmills for kids, it is really cute,” O’Callaghan said.

A model of a house with picket fence for a nursery area at Zaaz Eatery and Play in Kamloops.
A model of a house with picket fence for a nursery area at Zaaz Eatery and Play in Kamloops.

If this was not a big enough feat to accomplish, O’Callaghan also has a barista station in the works.

“There is a coffee bar here where we will offer espressos and smoothies,” she said. “Our commercial kitchen is upstairs and our backroom is for sitting and eating. Parents can relax, order food and even get work done while we host and supervise their children.”

O’Callaghan came up with the concept of the entertainment and learning space by combining her background in the field of health and safety with that of her experience being a mother.

“I work for B.C. Emergency Health Services,” she said. “When I had my kids I learned more about interactive play. My idea kept growing bigger until I decided to find a space.”

The facility, and a smaller one beside it that’s becoming an indoor park for parties and photo shoots, are located at 425 and 423 Mount Paul Way in the Mount Paul Industrial Park.

“Typically industrial parts of towns are where you find really big spaces and this business is really wanted here, a lot of people in the park are looking forward to it.”

O’Callaghan said she is waiting for the First Nations Health Authority to give final approval for the septic side of the building, along with final work to be completed by the electricians and plumbers.

She is hoping to have a soft opening on Aug. 19, even if the food side of the business is not ready yet.

The word "Zaaz" is a combination of O'Callaghan's kids' names, Aliza and Taz.  

This article was corrected at 11:43 a.m. on August 11, 2022 to show the business is located on Mount Paul Way.

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