Kris Moulton first heard about board-game cafés when he lived in Toronto. There, he visited Snakes and Lattes, the first boardgame café in Canada that combined food, drinks, and board games into an experience.
Moulton always enjoyed board games himself, and became serious about the hobby in 2004 when he started playing games such as Risk with friends. So he set out to open a board-game café in Halifax.
“It was fascinating to see how people came together and interacted in a different way with their friends,” Moulton says. “You can go to a movie or dinner, but it’s different when you interact over a game. You get to know each other a little better. You get to know the person and how they win and how they lose. And it’s a really fun, social icebreaker.”
Three years ago, Moulton opened The Board Room Game Café on Barrington Street. And now he’s set to open a second location at 936 Bedford Highway (the former Aplaydia location) in November. He chose Bedford because it’s close to other communities such as Hammonds Plains, Lower Sackville, Fall River, and Dartmouth where he grew up.
“It seemed like a good second spot to me, and it’s close to a lot of people,” he says.
The Bedford location offers some 500 games to play, including classics such as Monopoly and Payday, and Catan and Terraforming Mars. There are games for children and party games, too. Visitors pay $5 each to play as many games as they like. Staff known as “game bosses” teach guests the rules of the games they want to play.
“We hope [the game bosses] can explain 50 to 100 games on our shelf,” Moulton says. “You can learn them, but it’s difficult to explain to someone 100 games and have them to be able to teach them easily.”
Visitors can also buy drinks, such as beer, wine, or espresso, plus snacks, sandwiches, and desserts. The kitchen in the Bedford location is twice the size of the downtown one, so Moulton says the menu offerings will be more flexible.
Moulton says the Barrington Street location attracts a lot of university students and young professionals, but he says they get many families, too. He expects a similar mix at the Bedford location.
“A lot of people grew up playing board games with their families, so they see that as something they haven’t done in a long time or they have really good memories about it,” he says. “It’s moved beyond family night. It’s great when I see university students come downtown, football players, and people you wouldn’t expect to be into board games.”
Moulton also offers events such as speed friending in which strangers can play board games together. There are also trivia nights revolving around themes such as the Harry Potter books or the sitcom The Office. Moulton says those events have been especially popular, and will happen at the Bedford location, too.
“We were amazed after we announced it that many people showed up,” he says. “We’ve done trivia all year since then, but some are more popular than others.
The new location is set to open in November, and Moulton says he’s looking forward to a new crowd, in a new neighbourhood.
“I am taking it as it goes,” Moulton says. “This is my first time experimenting with a second location, so I will see how it works out here in a more suburban atmosphere compared to downtown. But the response so far is good.”