Last year, the most successful Kickstarter category in terms of dollars pledged was the one devoted to gaming. Year-over-year board game sales have been on the rise for more than a decade. And Shiva Risner, a self-described “gamer nerd,” is wagering that the time is right for a Cleveland-based board game café. Set to open in late fall, Tabletop Board Game Café (1810 W. 25th St.) will cater to game-loving folks looking for some good, clean fun in a casual, social setting.
“I saw a similar concept in Toronto — sort of the first of its kind in North America — and it just blew up,” Risner says about her visit a few years back to the popular Toronto spot Snakes & Lattes. “I just loved the idea and couldn’t stop talking about it with my husband. It went from a ‘what if’ and a ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ thing to us ending up doing it.”
The Tabletop concept is a bit more ambitious than the corner tavern that stocks a few dusty editions of Connect 4 and Battleship. Management intends to offer 1,000 different “analogue” board/card games. With names like Dominion, Twilight Struggle, Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders and The Manhattan Project, the multi-player games can last for hours.
“The main difference from the bars and restaurants that have a few games is that those are just something people can turn to to kill some time,” explains Risner. “At board game cafes, the people come specifically to play certain games and try out new games before they invest in them.”
The café will offer “gaming menus,” administered by servers who are both familiar with and passionate about the games on hand. Those games will be categorized and labeled on a wall of shelves.
Cost will be $5 admission per person to play games for as long as you’d like. There will be a weekly trivia night, though it will be unconventional with hands-on games and participatory contests. The 75-seat café will sell beer and wine and a few simple, healthy sandwiches.
Tabletop will also feature a “maker space” where they will host design tutorials, hands-on tinkering projects, and other creative endeavors.
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