ROANOKE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Jenee Molacek started her interview by saying, “I debated whether I was going to tell this.”
The indoor kids’ entertainment business owner quickly explained how one of the happiest moments in her life led to some of her darkest days.
“I went through postpartum after Tyler was born,” Molacek said. At the time, the new mom lived far from family and friends.
“I was struggling. I was struggling bad. I was very, very sad,” she continued.
But Molacek took what she was missing in life, and turned it into a life long dream.
“I would go the the park and I would see groups of moms together,” she said.
In 2018, Molacek built The Nest and Roost in Roanoke.
“I wanted to create something where any mom — whether she was local or transplant — could come together, make friendships, have the kids play, have a support system and have fun together,” she said.
Thinking back to her grand opening, she choked up remembering the excitement of that day. “I still get very emotional when I think about that. It was something I’d dreamed about for so long.”
And while business started to slow, Molacek said it picked up quickly. “When the buzz started happening, it feels like it just took off overnight.”
Up to 100 children a week played in the North Texas indoor facility filled with playhouses and toys.
Molacek became known as Momma J and earned a 2019 Best of 76262 Magazine award for the best indoor youth activity. She celebrated holiday after holiday with her customers.
About two years into her business, Molacek said she was two months shy of being out of the red.
But, that all changed in late February.
“I had started to hear about the virus,” she said. “I could sense the tension among the parents.”
By March, big kids were not going back to school, and Molacek began to worry about how little kids could come to her facility.
And then, what happened next was extremely hard.
“I took it upon myself as a mom and as a citizen to do that I think was best and close,” she explained.
An eerie silence settled over the once clanking toys, and suddenly there were no more smiling faces peeping through playhouses. No one to drive the play trucks, no one to play make believe in the play stores.
“It’s quiet, it’s dark…” Molacek said. “It just feels lonely and sad and it makes me sad.”
She did not qualify for government aid. And by mid-April, the working mom made a tough decision to close The Nest and Roost for good. “Right now I don’t have the money per month to pay for rent and utilities.”
Now, Molacek is selling her toys and equipment online.
“No one goes into businesses and puts all that money into a business for it just to go under a year and half after opening doors for no fault of your own,” she said.
And while The Nest and Roost is currently a very lonely place, Molacek knows she’s anything but alone.
“I’m friends with a lot of other small business owners and we all have the same worries, the same fears, the same questions. We’re all kinda living our own little nightmare,” she said.
But Molacek is staying resilient, as a personal struggle was on the route to success the first go around.
“I am a fighter and I definitely think and hope that my ultimate plan is to reopen down the road when I can,” she said.