The scent of freshly baked cookies and the sound of conversation and friendly competition, that’s what one can expect walking into the new café on Main Street in downtown Middletown, Connecticut.
The Board Room, Connecticut’s first board game café, is a family owned business which opened in June of 2015. This café offers over 400 different board and card games to play as well as various snacks and drinks.
“We have games for people that think games aren’t for them,” said Tenzin Masselli, who manages The Board Room and coordinates the events. Customers need to pay a fee of $5 per person, then they are able to play any of the games for the rest of the day, coming and going as they please.
The idea of a gaming café stemmed from the family’s interest in gaming conventions such as ConnectiCon. Masselli said the family was “happy all the time,” when playing together. Gaming has been a way for his family to become closer to one another, the café was inspired by their bond to “create a place with a similar feel for the community,” he said.
The Board Room offers the experience to meet new people while learning and playing various games. “The main idea behind shops like this is to build a stronger community,” Masselli said. Some regulars have begun volunteering for The Board Room, teaching games and giving tutorials to others that are interested in learning. “If you don’t know a game and want to learn, we’ll sit down and teach you,” Masselli said.
Daniel Nocera, coordinator of the Corporate Media Center and adjunct professor at Middlesex Community College, helped film a short commercial for The Board Room. Just under two minutes, short clips of people of all ages enjoying different levels of games are shown along with coffee and food being served.
On average “a good dozen or two dozen students come through,” Masselli said, a few of them now regulars. The students take advantage of the opportunity to save here. “Some people will study, then transition into gaming,” Masselli said. The Board Room sells some board games, magic the gathering cards, card sleeves, and deck boxes. “We’ve got it all,” Masselli said. People who decide to sit and play games end up saving hundreds. Some of the games the café carries costs over $100.
The Board Room is opened Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday’s noon to 12:00 a.m. and Sunday’s noon to 8:00 p.m.
On rainy Monday’s, they open up for warmth and indoor fun. Every week, magic the gathering, a competitive trading card game goes on. “We’re still adding stable events,” Masselli said. Next to one of the bookshelves piled with games is a suggestion board made up of sticky notes for any new game requests.
“It’s a daily struggle not to eat every cookie,” Masselli said. Soon Masselli says The Board room will be running more events and the walls will be fully decorated with paintings to attract more customers. “We’ve been adding things every week to bring people in,” he said.