FALLS VILLAGE — There were no children present at 9 a.m. for the early bird Mardi Gras celebratory menu (and free bead necklaces) on a recent Sunday, but they were definitely on everyone’s mind at Toymaker’s Cafe.

When Toymaker’s owners Ann and Greg Bidou were asked to take a brief break from their restaurant duties, they chose to stand beneath a shelf of miniature motorcycles and an enthralling collage of familiar images. Ann Bidou explained: “The Connecticut Academy for the Arts approached us about hosting a children’s artistic workshop here a few years ago. The children created this lovely collage and to see our own business through the eyes of children was so fresh and amazing that we had to keep that image here!”

Located in Torrington, CAFTA believes in “unlocking the genius that lies within” for all ages, but especially for youngsters ages 8 to 18. Co-founders Teresa and John Sullivan brought a group of children to the Toymaker’s Café since the quirky and whimsical eatery was a perfect backdrop for inspiration to create sculptures, paintings, collages, even an original song. Artworks were exhibited and then sold at the nearby David M. Hunt Library.

Ivan Brice, a diner at the large community table, looked up from reading his local newspaper to applaud the Bidous for supporting children’s creativity. He said his daughter attended a Lost Arts workshop in nearby Cornwall Bridge put on by Joseph Brien whose mission is to inspire children for hands-on learning of traditional crafts and wilderness skills that are non-digital in nature.

Ann Bidou, who said she and her husband hosted the Mardi Gras weekend because they both love Southern cooking, acknowledged that she is an unabashed anglophile who threw a ”Royal Wedding” party when Harry married Meghan, complete with ladies wearing fascinators and authentic British foods. She shared that she is anxiously awaiting the Royal Birth in April so she can replicate that happy day.

Toymaker’s Café is located at 85 Main Street in Falls Village and can be contacted at 860-824-8168.

Connecticut Media Group