Anthony Flick and his friend, Jeff Welsh, spent a Friday evening eliminating the Genestealer threat.
Kyle Gibson and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Cregg, joined Flick and Welsh in the cooperative card game “Space Hulk: Death Angel” where they control a squad of Terminator Space Marines that venture into a mass of ancient space debris. Their mission had a 44 percent chance of success with an 86 percent chance of casualties, according to the game description.
And failure wasn’t an option.
But Flick and Welsh have found mixed success with other board games they’ve played at Gibson’s game cafe, Boards and Beans, 566 W. Central Ave., over the past four weekends. They play at least one new game a week, usually with a group of up to five people. So far, they have played 10 to 12 different games at the cafe.
“We didn’t win them all of them, but we did finish them,” Flick said.
The cafe is opened on the evenings from Thursday to Sunday. From classics such as “Trouble” and “Clue” to newer games such as “Ticket to Ride” and “The Settlers of Catan,” customers pay an entry fee to play as many of the cafe’s more than 400 board and card games. The cafe also has a small collection of games for sale, which the owner receives at a lower rate from a wholesaler.
“Every week we do get one new game so we’re constantly building our library,” said Gibson, who wore a blue shirt that featured the Boards & Beans name with its logo — a chess piece with a single bean on the top.
Additionally, the space is available for private parties Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday, which are occasionally reserved for Learn and Play events where Gibson teaches a new game.
He started his game cafe two months ago at his father’s 800-square-foot Liberty Tax Service office. At the beginning of each weekend, he hangs a banner with the business’ name to attract new customers.
“It has been slow because we’re at this location and not really being able to showcase ourselves real well,” Gibson said.
The Lewis Center resident has invested $15,000 in the business. He saved most of his money from working after he graduated from Bryan College in Tennessee December 2015. Although Gibson grew up near the Polaris area, he said the mall’s amenities and attractions didn’t “have the same kind of vibe as Delaware” and would often visit the city for a bite to eat at the Son of Thurman restaurant in downtown.
But some of the community’s traditions and history are new to him such as the existence of the Little Brown Jug horse race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
“I’m still kind of learning Delaware,” he said.
Inspired by the Snakes & Lattes board games cafe in Toronto, Gibson wanted to bring the concept to Delaware as an alternative to traditional attractions such as the bowling alley and movie theater.
Although Columbus had its own version with Kingmakers, 17 Buttles Ave., in the Short North, Gibson said his game cafe would be more Delaware-oriented, regardless of age.
“I like to bring the whole community together into one place,” he said.
But he recognizes the present and future challenges. Aside from the amount of business received, the cafe is allowed to sell self-serve coffee and pre-packaged foods to stay compliant with health code.
There’s also the usual conversation to explain the relatively new concept of a game cafe and why it’s fun, Gibson said.
“A lot of people call it the Renaissance of board games because there’s just new board games all the time,” he said.
“Games have just gotten a lot better.”
There’s also an opportunity to take a step back from technology, he added.
“I’m on my phone all the time — everybody is,” Gibson said.
“It’s tough when you’re in this digital age to, you know, kind of step back and have time with people … that’s what I think is great about board games is because you can interact with people and meet new people, it’s a great ice breaker.”
While building up a customer base, Gibson plans to relocate the cafe to a permanent location in downtown as his father will ramp up office hours for tax season in January.
But the new location is where the young owner plans to shine. He wants to add another 700 to 1,200 square feet in order to have a kitchen and coffee bar to provide full-service coffee and local baked goods, the game parlor itself and a room to host private events at any time.
The new venue would showcase the community through a variety of elements such as historical photos. Gibson said he has already reached out to collaborate with several community-driven organizations including the local YMCA, library and Ohio Wesleyan University’s board game club.
Anything that makes people leave their homes and interact with the community is what the YMCA is all about, said Roger Hanafin, the youth, teen and family program director of the Delaware Community Center YMCA.
He hopes to schedule an event in conjunction with Boards and Beans before the new year.
While Gibson gauges whether his cafe has the following for a home in downtown, he hopes to one day build a new facility in that area and expand.
“I want to take Boards and Beans to be bigger than just one city,” he said, with Delaware as the place it began.
“Obviously Delaware is the perfect place for the historic beginning site of anything.”
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.
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