It’s not about the food, it’s about the experience, from restaurants with board games, arcade games, boxing, birds, or creepy dolls. These places = food + fun! Ranjani Venkatakrishnan/azcentral.com
Snakes & Lattes has three branches in Toronto. The Tempe location is the company’s first outside of Canada. It’s projected to open late this summer in the former Z’Tejas space off Mill Avenue.
When Snakes & Lattes opens in downtown Tempe, the city will get its first dedicated board game cafe.
“What the heck is a board game cafe?” you’re likely asking.
It’s akin to an arcade in the sense that its offers guests a large collection of games to play in a social setting. Only instead of Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat, you choose from games like Cards Against Humanity, Jenga, Scrabble and Catan.
And, while table-top games are the draw, they’re just one side of the dice. Snakes & Lattes has a full kitchen with a menu designed to be eaten while you play. Think nachos, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
“Things you can eat in one hand are great…I don’t think a fondue pot will make it,” quipped Aaron Zack, chief operating officer of the Canadian concept.
Snakes & Lattes has three branches in Toronto. The first opened in 2010, which made it the first board game cafe in North America, according to the company.
The Tempe location will be the company’s first foray outside of Canada. It’s projected to open late this summer in the former Z’Tejas space on Sixth Street just off Mill Avenue.
The cafe also will serve craft beer, wine, cocktails and coffee.
‘Game gurus’ to the rescue
How is a board game cafe different from other restaurants with games?
While many restaurant hangouts offer board games for guests to play, a board game cafe takes it to the next level. Traditional restaurants often have just a handful of games, but Snakes & Lattes has hundreds.
They even have staff, called “game gurus,” who are there to recommend games and teach patrons how to play them.
Board game cafes like Snakes & Lattes are becoming popular around the country. You’ll find them in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Denver.
How does a board game cafe work?
When you walk in, you’ll see a library of hundreds of games. You can pick your own or enlist a game guru to find the perfect game to suit your group.
Patrons pay a fee to access the library of games. In Toronto, it’s $8 per person. Guests can play as many games as they’d like during their stay. The fee also goes toward replacing damaged games and keeping the inventory at its best.
“People told us, ‘You’re crazy, no one will pay you to play board games.’ But we were instantly popular,” Zach said.
The Tempe fee has yet to be determined.
A place to restore connections
The genius behind the concept is that it satisfies a desire to be social, Zack said. Board games have always been a way to bond with others, and by adding a restaurant backdrop, that potential expands.
“It’s reflective of our need in society to have something more analog,” he said. “We live in a time where we have the ability to connect with so many people so quickly in the digital sense that we lose connection in our social lives. Board games are a medium to connect with people…in a visceral way.”
Zack said they see a lot of couples and first dates at Snakes & Lattes. Group size ranges from two to eight people, though most games are in the two- to six-player range.
Another perk: Arizonans need indoor entertainment during the scorching summers. People in Toronto have similar weather-induced problems, it’s just they hide out from snow instead of the sun. So, Zach reasons, if Snakes & Lattes can succeed where it freezes, it’ll work at the other end of the spectrum too.
Details: Opening at 20 W. Sixth St., Tempe. snakesandlattes.com.
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