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Subject: What's the original board game cafe? rss

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Matt Thrower
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Title says it all really. I know this may not be an answerable question - there's a long tradition of battered board and card games being available in cafes and bars, after all. But if anyone has any idea where the current trend originated, I'd love to know.

(This isn't idle curiosity. I'm working on an article about them.)
 
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Scott C
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Cracker Barrel??



Not sure how you are going to get an answer to this one.

Maybe you should re-phrase to "the first modern game cafe"?

I look forward to more intelligent responses than mine.

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David J. Mortimer
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Snakes & Lattes in Toronto has been around for a while. Not sure if it was first though
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David J. Mortimer
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morti wrote:
Snakes & Lattes in Toronto has been around for a while. Not sure if it was first though


Opened in 2010
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Raithyn
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Hawk6 wrote:
Cracker Barrel??



Not sure how you are going to get an answer to this one.

Maybe you should re-phrase to "the first modern game cafe"?

I look forward to more intelligent responses than mine.


Including the peg games on the tables, I would say Cracker Barrel at least deserves honorable mention if not a full entry.
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Pete
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I'm guessing it was something like this:



Pete (has no real knowledge of the matter though)
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Moe45673
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I was just at Snakes and Lattes this week. Don't frequent it too much (their prices of games to purchase are significantly higher than other FLGS, plus their in-store selection of games to buy isn't great; I should add that they do this latteron purpose, preferring to use space for people to sit down, order some food, and play. The former is probably due to the fact that everyone's heard of them and doesn't know that you can shop around). I remember going on a date there way back when, before I'd gotten into boardgames (probably within their first year). I played Ticket to Ride Nordic countries (TTR was a game I knew of from the Xbox Live Arcade version) with the date. Back then, it was way more hipster and indie. Low couches, sprawling tables...... nowadays it has a much more refined look and its love of boardgames is still present, but it feels more about just attracting anyone to come in and spend money, rather than delivering the gospel. I get that that's how they've stayed around for 5 years but it doesn't feel like the Mecca of boardgaming that it did back then.


Btw, Matt, big fan of your articles on SUSD. Keep the wargaming flame burning!
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Chris Dugas
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Moe45673 wrote:
I was just at Snakes and Lattes this week...I get that that's how they've stayed around for 5 years but it doesn't feel like the Mecca of boardgaming that it did back then.




I thought the tone of the place changed when they did their major renovation a couple of years back. My favorite game gurus were no longer there, and I haven't been back since they got rid of a main-floor accessible bathroom that the public could use. I had some mobility issues back then, and even though those issues are now resolved, getting rid of an accessible bathroom so patrons had to be able to go downstairs or nothing left a very bad taste in my mouth!
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1 Lucky Texan
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backgammon and chess have certainly been played in a coupla spots I know of since the 70s.

I suspect there is a decent 'continuum' w'ever , going back maybe 3000 or more years. In what environments were games like Latrunculorum, and Hnefetafl played? court only or in Inns and alehouses? I feel certain dice games could easily find a place in taverns going very far back.
 
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Greg
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The Atlantic had an article that talked about board game cafes. In that article, they say that Snakes and Lattes claims to be the first of it's kind in North America. Take that for what it's worth.

EDIT: Though, if you go to this thread from 2010, you'll see many links to board game cafes and Snakes and Lattes gets mentioned opening up on page 3. So clearly, there were some open before them, even in North America.
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Roland Sanchez
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Probably a tea shop for Go players somewhere in early China.
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Michael Iachini
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Snakes and Lattes definitely is not the first in North America. The place right down the street from my house, Enchanted Grounds in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA, has been here since before I moved here in 2009, and I'm pretty sure they had already been in business for several years by then. I'm guessing they've been in business since maybe 2004-2006, somewhere in there. For what it's worth, their oldest Yelp review is from February 2008.

http://www.enchantedgrounds.com/

Note that I'm not claiming they're the first (I've never heard anyone there claim as much). But they definitely pre-date anything that opened in 2010.
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Steve B
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Board gaming is absolutely massive in Helsinki, Finland. Every single persons home I visit they have either a copy of Battlestar Galactica or Munchkin (the 2 most popular games here). You regularly see people walking around with "Lautapelit" shopping bags (the publisher of Eclipse and the best local game store).

Almost all of the pubs have a board game selection, ranging from terrible games to half decent games like Catan.

Here is an article from 2002 that mentions "daily papers, board games to play, and a great selection of beers".

http://allaboutbeer.com/article/helsinkis-pubs-and-beer-cafe...
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John Middleton
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There was a RPG/Warhammer/Anime/Game Store is Casper, Wyoming for years called Level 12 that had a coffee shop inside of it. The coffee shop was owned and run by a different guy from the game store.

This was 1998 - 2000ish before I moved away.
 
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Locke Balenska
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I agree with some upthread posts that the 'correct' answer is probably a tea house/cafe/bazaar/whatever dedicated to Go, Mancala, Ur, Senet, Patolli or some other ancient game.

As far as the earliest "modern" games cafe, even that is probably very hard to determine as there's not a clear boundary of what would and wouldn't count. Long before "board games cafes" were a thing, you'd still have cafes, bars and bubble tea shops that were commonly frequented by people playing tabletop games inside. These places just didn't advertise themselves as a "board game cafe" before the term started to become popular a decade or so back.
 
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Bryan Carpenter
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I believe Thirsty Meeples (http://www.thirstymeeples.co.uk/) were the first board game cafe in the UK but I've no idea when they opened.

(But I can vouch they do great sausage rolls! )
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plezercruz wrote:
I'm guessing it was something like this:



Pete (has no real knowledge of the matter though)




They played some version of Cribbage which I'm told is called Senet?
 
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Moe45673 wrote:
I was just at Snakes and Lattes this week. Don't frequent it too much (their prices of games to purchase are significantly higher than other FLGS, plus their in-store selection of games to buy isn't great; I should add that they do this latteron purpose, preferring to use space for people to sit down, order some food, and play. The former is probably due to the fact that everyone's heard of them and doesn't know that you can shop around). I remember going on a date there way back when, before I'd gotten into boardgames (probably within their first year). I played Ticket to Ride Nordic countries (TTR was a game I knew of from the Xbox Live Arcade version) with the date. Back then, it was way more hipster and indie. Low couches, sprawling tables...... nowadays it has a much more refined look and its love of boardgames is still present, but it feels more about just attracting anyone to come in and spend money, rather than delivering the gospel. I get that that's how they've stayed around for 5 years but it doesn't feel like the Mecca of boardgaming that it did back then.
Well, if not these changes, then your FLGS would probably lean on cash cows such as CCGs. And that's a shocker... even more expensive then FLGS! wow


I been to a Meetup where while you're free to attend for free, they sell memberships for discounts on other events and buying games. And yeah, they sell games. Anytime a group sells games, it becomes less of a casual affair and more about business which has rubbed me the wrong way.
 
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John Wilder
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I would recommend going back to some of the first episodes of The Dice Tower. They talk about board game cafes in South Korea back in 2006, and said they were everywhere. Apparently they came and went quickly, but there were around and popular.
 
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Darryl Boone
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desmothenes wrote:
I would recommend going back to some of the first episodes of The Dice Tower. They talk about board game cafes in South Korea back in 2006, and said they were everywhere. Apparently they came and went quickly, but there were around and popular.


Which ties into the claim I sometimes see that Snakes & Lattes was the first board game café in North America. They weren't even the first in Canada. Vancouver had at least one, maybe two, board game cafés before that. The difference is that those were started by and for Koreans and were not well known outside of the Korean community. They're also not around any more so that's more trivia than anything, I suppose.
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A local brewery used to have a cafe/bar attached with a large selection of board games you could borrow. This was back in 2008. Sadly, the brewery moved, got a huge upscale restaurant without any games and is rather soulless now.

I'm sure there are thousands of cafes/bars that have a wide selection of games but just don't advertise it, so you don't know unless you go in.
 
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L'Oya in Paris has been around since 1995. It was the first boardgame café I ever saw, but was it the first? I have no idea, but it certainly is much older than the others mentioned in the thread. It used to be in front of Censier university, it has since moved to its current location.

Has it started the current trend? I doubt it, but it has probably paved the way for other boardgame cafés in Paris (at least 3 of them operating right now, with another one about to open).
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CARL SKUTSCH
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In the late 1970s there was a place called 'The Battleground' in New York City, over on Bleeker, past Broadway. Back then the area was pretty skeevy and so the rents were low. They charged $1 to come in and play games, but they sold snacks and so forth, of course. The place never quite seemed to make a profit, but it was my formative board gaming locale. The space was massive, the furnishings low rent (big long tables and I don't even remember the kind of chairs).

I'm glad board gaming cafes are making a real go of it these days.
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Hans Broersen
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I don't know if this is the "original" one.
I have been visiting Het schaakcafe (The chess cafe) in Amsterdam since the early 1970s. It facilitated chess, go, backgammon and card games.
It was probably there before I discovered it.
I have not seen an older one yet.

Do I win a prize?
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La Recreation
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La Récréation offers board games activities and coffee since 2007. We are in Montréal, Canada.
facebook.com/larecreation
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