When I read in the Journal that Edmonton was getting its own version of the awesome board gaming coffee shop in Toronto called Snakes and Lattes, I was pretty excited. Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows that I’m a nerd. If there were a scorecard for nerdiness, lets just say that I would probably score pretty well, what with the LARPs and cons and Whedon addiction… And one of the scorecard options I’d be checking off would be having played a lot of really awesome geeky board games! When I offered to come in and do some sneak preview photos at the brand new Table Top Cafe, Brian responded enthusiastically, and I was glad to help out a fellow small businessperson in getting a start. Besides, there may be a lot of overlap in our clientele soon, if I have anything to say about it…
My new admin person, Mel – whose recent cosplay engagement photos you might have seen, was really excited about the store too, and so she tagged along. We came in and were greeted by the store owner, Brian Flowers, a rail-thin ginger with a big grin, who immediately offered to make us a drink to hone his skills. She had a latte, and being a tea person I asked for a chai latte, and we were both really impressed by the drinks he made us, though he swears he’s not got them quite right yet. Brian was gracious in showing us around and we talked a bit about the cafe – which I’m happy to share!
So here’s an interview with Brian Flowers, the mastermind behind Edmonton’s newest place to unplug and have fun!
Twyla, Photographer with Admire Studios:
I’m so excited to be one of the first to see the cafe! So what does Table Top Cafe bring to the table in Edmonton?
Brian, Owner of Table Top Cafe:
Well, I think that the cafe provides a one-of-a-kind try it before you buy it experience for board games. You can read as many reviews about a game as you like, or talk to whoever you wish, but the only way to know if you like a game for sure is to play it yourself. You can do that here at the Table Top Cafe! There’s really nowhere for people to gather and play anything except Magic here in Edmonton, so this is going to give game lovers a place to go and to stay late, we close at midnight Monday-Thursday, and 2am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays!
So is it going to be “unplugged” – you know, no TV’s on the walls or anything like that?
You don’t want to play a really awesome board game with a big television distracting you! This is a great place to disconnect from the noisy world around you and focus on personal interaction over a backstabbing yet friendly game of Risk. With high quality food and drinks and a great, central and accessible space with lots of parking on 75th Street, I hope that we’re building a major hub for the board game community in Edmonton and area!
It’s tough to find a place to unplug and spend time with friends, so I’m glad to hear that’s a big part of what you’re doing here. And trying out new games is awesome, too. Do you have some suggestions for great introductory games for people interested in board gaming to try, you know, like the kind of people who’ve played Monopoly but don’t really know what else is out there but might be interested in trying something with friends?
Settlers is THE gateway board game – essentially you are working to see who can use trading and transport to settle a place fast and get the best goods… Let’s see… Ticket to Ride is another easy-to-learn game that helps form a bridge to other more complicated gaming experiences, and it involves train travelling. I would also say, King of Tokyo, because it plays just like Yahtzee, but instead of just rolling dice, you are a giant monster that crushes your friends (other monsters) and the city, in a quick and easy to learn way! What are some others… Pandemic, slightly more complicated than the others but exposes people to a new kind of game where the players must work together to stop a virus from wiping out the human race! And finally, I can’t leave out one of the fastest growing games right now: Cards Against Humanity, a fabulous party game that can be learned in under 10 seconds and does not beat around the bush. Let’s just say, it’s made for people as twisted as you.
Those all sound pretty fabulous, and I can vouch for some of them myself! So are you planning to have people teaching games too?
Yeah, I’ve got people who are really big fans of certain games, and I’m thinking about holding events for people to learn how to play some of the more complicated games that are totally worth learning!
That’s great, I know of a few games that took a while to learn but were totally worth it! So about the cafe side of things – what’s on the menu?
We’ve got a great selection of food and drinks to offer, specializing in high quality espresso drinks like lattes, mochas and cappuccinos, beer and wine, bottles of water and pop, and for those times when the game really get’s going, energy drinks. We’ve also got a great selection of game-friendly foods to keep the hunger at bay while you play, including paninis, fruit and veggie platters, and stuff to feed your sweet tooth like banana bread, bowls of candy, muffins and cookies!
My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Sounds delicious! I know you’re busy, but one last question! A lot of people dream of starting their own business out of what they love to do in their spare time. What kind of advice would you have for someone starting out?
Planning, planning, planning. You can never plan enough. I severely underestimated how long this process would take and how much it would cost. Writing out a business plan helps! Make sure you have a good support group of friends and family willing to help with all the little problems that pop up. I would recommend that you take your time to find the right location, you want to be there for a good long time! Encourage feedback from everyone you meet. You may love your idea but it will require fine tuning…
Thanks, Brian! Looking forward to opening day – when was that again?
Table Top Cafe’s Grand Opening is coming up on Saturday, October 26th – but we are also open in a limited capacity up until the opening. A few final touches are required to finish the place up but we are open regular hours ( those listed on the website) with games, espresso, beer and food! You can check out our website at www.tabletopcafe.ca – there’s a list of the games we have available right now, which is growing all the time – and you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on what’s happening.
Check out some of the really early sneak previews of what the Table Top experience will be like – including Brian presiding from a Throne of Games and some monsters playing Sushi:
Interested in some nerdy photos yourself? Check out some of my other nerd-work!
Mel and Nick – Medieval Cosplay | Rob and Ashley – Justice League
Micheala and David – Comic Books | Erin and Paul – Super Mario