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Board Game Tavern

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mdpotter
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Is anyone aware of any taverns setup for board gaming? I am looking for a place where adults can go that has been optimized for playing board games. Possibly having small tournaments, etc.

I have seen many places that are filled with kids. I was just wondering if an over 21 establishment can prosper.

Kalroten
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Board Game Tavern
Dralius
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Board Game Tavern

Don't forget www.superdupergames.com

I am running a Cannon tournament there right now.

mdpotter
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Board Game Tavern

I guess my first post wasn't clear. I am trying to find out if any physical tavern/bar exists that caters to adult boardgamers and is successfull. By adult I don't mean X-rated.

I am only familiar with places like game stores. Their tournaments are mostly filled with the under 21 crowd.

Thanks for the online game play links though...

Brykovian
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Board Game Tavern

Hi ...

I do not know of any that focus on board games, but I have seen some "games bars" that focus on video games and more physical bar-type games, like darts, billiards, and bowling. (I am located in the upper-midwest of the US; familiar with Minnesota and Wisconsin, primarily.)

However, I have contemplated what it would take to start such a place like this. In the US, it would have to be in or near a major metro area in order to have a large enough customer base. I think the gamers in the area will seek it out, if it's advertised/promoted well enough.

However, I also think you would need to be careful not to make enemies of the local game stores ... these are the only places that I've seen that currently serve as a neutral-ground playing location.

Also (again, with my location in mind), I think you would need to have a very wide acceptance of the type of game being played ... even becoming known as the "place to play cards" would help.

Otherwise ... this might be a better question to serve up in the forums over at BGG ... I think I've even seen this discussed there at least once.

If I knew of such a place in my area, I'd be sure to drag my wife to it at least once! ;-D

-Bryk

Hambone
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Board Game Tavern

As an avid gamer, I am often left wishing for more game-friendly locations. I also keep thinking that there must be a better way to cater to the gamers out there. I would go distances and pay extra to patronize a place that was comfortable and welcoming to gamers as I am sure many of us would.

The problem is, the business of food service (restaurant or tavern) really counts on turning over patrons as fast as possible. It also needs people to buy stuff, and I have rarely met gamers with lots of money to spend. My suggestion is that you find a comfortable location and find out when they aren't busy. Ask if you can start a regular meeting of friends if they give you your own area or maybe even a special or two. A good tavern owner or restraunteer should jump at the chance.

We have a local Irish pub that has large tables and Guiness on tap :). We can usually get a table on any weeknight other than Friday. Saturday afternoons are great too. We tell the waitress when we get there that we plan on being a while, and they immediately work to make it great for us. They give us a table by ourselves and adjust the music to what we want. Don't forget to tip up-front. They work harder for you and don't worry about you staying past their shift. This is especially important on an afternoon gaming session when you might stay until the evening shift.

Good luck finding a place!

jwarrend
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Board Game Tavern

This sounds like a very cool idea, and it would be great if such a thing existed, but my guess is that, unfortunately, it's probably not a viable business model at this time. There just aren't enough gamers out there.

Now, as Bryk says, if you expand the meaning of "gamer", you may have some hope, but it means you're definitely going to host more Texas Hold 'Em poker nights than strategy board game nights.

The problem with attracting the few board gamers there are out there to a business like this are, as I see it, that your possible sources of revenue are somewhat antithetical to gaming. Presumably you'll charge a fee to walk in the door. Well, my home is free, and so is the game store; why not just play there and save the $20 that our group of 4 would need to pay?

Maybe you could offer a broad selection of games to play, but again, most game groups have, among their members, a pretty extensive library; I suppose they could be attracted to playing "your" games because then it's not their problem if a component gets covered with soda, but that inability to control accidents would of course just end up costing you more money.

You might also make money selling food and drink, but I'm in the "food and game components don't mix" category, and many others are as well. Here you could actually provide a nice service, though, perhaps by designing your tables to be food-and-game-compatible. For example, maybe the tables could have a plexiglass overlay under which the game board could be placed, or could have special built-in cup holders to prevent spills.

The biggest problem might be the gamers themselves. Game stores host open gaming with the theory that it's going to increase their sales, but gamers don't always work buy from a store simply because they're allowed free access to the store's tables. The exception is miniatures or CCGs, which aren't quite as easy to buy on-line.

So for me, it's tough to see how you'd drum up enough business and tough to see how you'd make money off the customers you could attract. Which is unfortunate, because it's a cool idea. If you decide to take the plunge, good luck!

-Jeff

Dralius
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jwarrend wrote:
This sounds like a very cool idea, and it would be great if such a thing existed, but my guess is that, unfortunately, it's probably not a viable business model at this time. There just aren't enough gamers out there.

In Korea game cafés are the rage; they are upscale establishments that charge each client by the hours just to step in the door often using a prepaid subscription format. They sell snack food and drinks; feature a library of games to choose from and knowledgeable staff to help teach new players.

This model might not work in the USA; I can’t say I have heard of anyone trying it. If there were such an establishment in my area I would support it.

I think there is potential for a clever business person to sell gaming as social interaction. If the local Pub can sell you a beer at 3 times what it costs at the store you’re not just going for the beer you’re buying something else too. It is the atmosphere, being with people and experiencing something that you can’t get at home. I think the trick is showing that it is fun to get together with people and participate in a group activity. All it would take is to have Matt Damon and a few of his buddies seen playing a game in such an establishment and there would be one in every town from Bangor to Marina Del Rey within a year probably all owned by Starbucks.

YojimboUK
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Board Game Tavern

In London many pubs have upstairs rooms that can be booked for a small or no fee, and I'm aware of a couple of groups that have fortnightly or monthly board-game meetings in them, to which anyone is welcome. But I'm not aware of anywhere that operates a 24/7 games policy.

mdpotter
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Board Game Tavern

Thank you all for your thoughts. I am happy to hear that the idea is robust in Korea. I don't think a cover charge would work in the US unless you can guarantee a large group of gamers were always available. There might be some revenue for room reservation. The bulk of the money would have to be made through food and drink. A small amount can be made through game sales.

Table/room design would be difficult. I have been trying to think of a workable design that would separate the game from the food and drink and still remain comfortable. I was considering a horseshoe shaped counter with swivel bar stools (with backs) inside the horseshoe. In the center of the horseshoe counter is the gaming table. Food on counter - game on table.

There would have to be some closed off rooms for the loud groups.

I agree with jwarrend that my idea of board games would have to be expanded to draw enough people for profitability. A few Texas Hold 'Em charity tournaments may go a long way to getting people in. Once in, curiosity could drive them to try other games.

larienna
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I have seen a bar in my china town that had some small games available. I don't remmeber exactly what there was, I rememeber seing poker chips and some chinese pieces like mah jong. The idea is that people in a bar will never play a complete board game like axis & Allies or settlers of catan. They are more likely to play simple games like poker.

You must also consider that there is a category of adults that considers that that games are for kids, not adult. So this is a reason why the major attraction in bars is generally either sports on a 200 Inch Tv (^_^). Bars also have poor lighting, so playing games could be not convenient.

RobBartel
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Check out Settlers Cafe

Check out "Settlers Cafe" in Singapore. The site is in impeccable English and their selection of games is very up-to-date Designer-centric. For any entrepreneurs in the crowd, it's a very interesting model and could generate a sufficient cult following in major urban centres here in North America.

http://www.settlerscafe.com/
http://sg.settlerscafe.com/

Enjoy,
Rob

setarcos
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Board Game Cafés in America?

Rob,

Where are you located? (I’m in Southern California.)

I’ve tried for some time to convince myself that this could be made to work in America. It just seems so unlikely to me that Americans would line up to pay an hourly fee just to be in a Board Game Café (the way they do in Korea and Singapore). But I can’t make the numbers work without an hourly fee either.

Still, I can’t shake the dream out of my head and I’ve been getting very tempted to try it lately. (Or maybe I’m just going insane.)

What do you BGDFers say? Could it be done?

Dralius
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Re: Board Game Cafés in America?

Setarcos wrote:
Rob,Still, I can’t shake the dream out of my head and I’ve been getting very tempted to try it lately. (Or maybe I’m just going insane.)

What do you BGDFers say? Could it be done?

Sure your insane all the great ones are a little crazy, you have to believe in the impossible to make the impossible happen.

I think that under the present perception of what a fun game is; Cranium, Scene It Etc.. You will need to start a fad to get people playing the kinds of games that are popular in the Korean gaming cafes. To do this you need to have prominent, popular & high profile customers coming to visit your establishment. Fortunately you’re in southern CA possibly the best place in the US if not in the world to find such people. Once the media picks up on the fact that “The Stars” are playing ticket to ride in a swanky coffee shop you going to have to hire a doorman, A BIG ONE, to keep them out. If you doubt that media exposure could have this effect look at what it has done for poker.

How do you get famous people in you’re cafe? If I knew that would have my own place already wouldn’t I.

setarcos
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Board Game Cafés in America?

Quote:
You will need to start a fad to get people playing the kinds of games that are popular in the Korean gaming cafes.

I’m not sure I’d even like that. From what I hear, the Korean version of Monopoly (Blue Marble) and games like Life and Jenga are what’s most popular in the Korean cafés. But hey, as long as folks are having good clean fun...

Quote:
How do you get famous people in you’re cafe?

Good question. Contrary to what a lot of people think, one virtually never runs into celebrities out here. SoCal is a big place. I think I’d rather have a community oriented place anyway.

So Dralius, I notice you’re from Ann Arbor. Do you plan on going to Protospiel? Have you gone before?

phpbbadmin
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Re: Board Game Cafés in America?

Setarcos wrote:
[

So Dralius, I notice you’re from Ann Arbor. Do you plan on going to Protospiel? Have you gone before?

FYI - Dralius is one of the organizers of Protospiel.

-Darke

Dralius
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Quote:
So Dralius, I notice you’re from Ann Arbor. Do you plan on going to Protospiel? Have you gone before?

As already pointed out I am helping organize this year’s event. Funny enough I didn’t pick the location. That part of the logistics was handled by Mike Petty who is one of the founders of the event and who’s game Take Your Pick has recently been released by Simply Fun, it was tested at last yes gathering. It just turned out that the rates for the conference and hotel rooms are the most reasonable he could find in mid Michigan (reserving you rooms early before the rate increase). The location is also easy to get to from the highway for those driving and there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

As for my experience with attending Protospiel it has been a positive experience in many ways. First it was simply great to meet with many of the members here, see what they are working on and hopefully aid them in taking there design to the next level. My designs also greatly benefited for the input I received and help me prioritize them. Of course there were speakers which were informative and had unique perspectives on the field. Even with all that one of my favorite things was the team design project, we had one hour to design & demonstrate a game using randomly drawn elements which included dexterity, clowns & farming. We were not able to fit the farming into the mix but my team did win with our rodeo clown bowling game.

If you have any question about what going on this year let me know?

setarcos
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Board Game Tavern

Darke wrote:
FYI - Dralius is one of the organizers of Protospiel.

So then he’s going this year?

Anyway that’s less embarrassing than when I asked Rick Loomis at ConQuest LA last month if he ever goes to GAMA (which I will attend this year) or if he intended to go this year.

He said he’s President of GAMA this year. (So I guess he’s going.)

RobBartel
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Re: Board Game Cafés in America?

Setarcos wrote:
Rob,

Where are you located? (I’m in Southern California.)

I'm in Canada's great white north - quite a ways away, I'm afraid.

I think there are two approaches:

Approach 1 is to focus on being a good coffee shop. Set up shop in a trendy area, establish a funky atmosphere and then start throwing the games in as a quirk.

Approach 2 is to focus on being a reputable hobby shop first. Find a part of SoCal that is under-served in terms of hobby game shops but still has a resident geek population with money to spend. From there, add the comfortable gameplay cafe as your quirk.

What you don't want to do is go for middle of the road - an empty room with ugly tables and a ratty collection of greatly abused games.

Best of luck,
Rob

mdpotter
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Board Game Tavern

Quote:
I think there are two approaches:

I think there may be a 3rd approach. When my gaming group gets together, there is always beer/wine etc. Of course we are all old farts...

Develop a bar type environment (21 and older).
---------
Benefits
---------
(1) Customers with more disposable income.
(2) Customers are encourged to stay a long time. High turnover is not required.
(3) There is a lot of profit in alcohol.
(4) Being a bar may make it less 'nerdy' and therefore may attract a broader clientele.
(5) Bar food does not need to be prepared by a 5 star chef or be trendy.
(6) Hobby shops tend to attract a lot of kids. A bar, by law, will not. To me this is a huge plus.

I have to agree with Rob, the place would have to be nicely done with a comfortable atmosphere, well maintained games and well designed game tables.

ddyer
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game tavern: friendy takeover.

#1 Just pick a place where you do business regularly and start
playing games there. Use common sense - pick a slack time,
and play something short. After a few times, you'll develop
a relationship with the staff.

#2 Marginal coffee shop type places just want people at the tables,
and officially host social events. A local coffee place here hosts
a small Go club every week on Tuesdays. Other nights they have
stitch-n-bitch or open mike.

boris
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Board Game Tavern

mdpotter wrote:
Quote:
Develop a bar type environment (21 and older).
(1) Customers with more disposable income.
(2) Customers are encourged to stay a long time. High turnover is not required.
(3) There is a lot of profit in alcohol.
(4) Being a bar may make it less 'nerdy' and therefore may attract a broader clientele.
....
(6) Hobby shops tend to attract a lot of kids. A bar, by law, will not. To me this is a huge plus.

There is a strip club (Tommy's Place) that I drive past every day on the way to work that has evidently embraced this idea. Their sign reads:

10 Dancers Daily, Play Chess Here.

It might work for boardgamers. "Honey, I'm going to game night." "Ok, Have fun." "I'll try, but it has been running sooo late since we moved it to Tommy's place." :)

Xyvius
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Board Game Tavern

boris wrote:
mdpotter wrote:
Quote:
Develop a bar type environment (21 and older).
(1) Customers with more disposable income.
(2) Customers are encourged to stay a long time. High turnover is not required.
(3) There is a lot of profit in alcohol.
(4) Being a bar may make it less 'nerdy' and therefore may attract a broader clientele.
....
(6) Hobby shops tend to attract a lot of kids. A bar, by law, will not. To me this is a huge plus.

There is a strip club (Tommy's Place) that I drive past every day on the way to work that has evidently embraced this idea. Their sign reads:

10 Dancers Daily, Play Chess Here.

It might work for boardgamers. "Honey, I'm going to game night." "Ok, Have fun." "I'll try, but it has been running sooo late since we moved it to Tommy's place." :)

Thast great lol, very funny!

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