Tabletop Game Cafe Coming Soon to Clintonville
Aaron Brown has been dreaming of opening a board game cafe since 2002. The Dayton-native had relocated to New York City, and immediately got involved in the board game scene there, organizing events and creating a gaming t-shirt line to sell as merch at conventions and gatherings.
“The more people we met and interacted with at events, the more we realized a dedicated space was needed,” he said. “So, we went through a business plans and crunched the numbers, but being a group of guys in our mid-twenties, we didn’t have capital to start something like that in New York. Instead, we hosted events in coffee shops and we rented performance spaces.”
The idea for a board game cafe stuck with Brown, and eventually he and his wife decided to relocate away from New York after becoming parents.
“We looked at cities to relocate to, and honestly, Columbus has always been on the map for us,” he stated. “We really started looking in 2008 and saw the entrepreneurial spirit that was developing in Columbus, and after following news on Columbus Underground and The Metropreneur, we knew this was a city we need to go to.”
The couple moved to Clintonville in 2010, and Brown’s wife Michelle Moskowitz spent the better part of the past six years advancing from volunteer to part time staff to full time staff to Executive Director at Local Matters.
“We wanted to let her career path take its course, and now she’s set, so I’m gearing up with the board game cafe idea again,” said Brown.
The venue’s location at 4316 North High Street seems like a no-brainer for Brown. He fell in love with Clintonville upon his relocation, and cites the walkability, family-friendliness and easy transit access as the reasons that drew him to the neighborhood as a resident. Once the Tabletop Game Cafe opens, he hopes the location will draw customers of all varieties.
“I’d like to start off with around 400 board games and a couple hundred RPG books with room to expand because the game industry is always pushing out more,” he said.
In addition to board gaming, customers will find coffees, espressos, and a food menu, and Brown plans to add a liquor license this fall that will add beer and wine to the bar’s menu. While Tabletop is already fully funded, Brown launched a small Kickstarter campaign yesterday to help build the game library and offer customers an opportunity to leave their mark on the space and be involved in its creation.
“The reward level that’s been the most popular so far is the chance to put your name in the bar in hexagon tile,” explained Brown. “The bar top will be built with these interlocked hexagons, each with names drawn on in hand-written calligraphy. It will be a cool way to see all the people who helped get us there.”
When asked about his entrepreneurial role models and advisors, Brown was quick to point out that Mark Swanson, President of Stauf’s, has been extremely helpful with the process of getting his business ready to launch.
“Mark has been an amazing mentor who walked me through a lot of stuff,” said Brown. “I’m coming through this process with an organization background, but I’ve never done food and drink before. Mark has been very helpful and open with sharing information.”
The Tabletop Game Cafe is slated to open in late July or early August, pending the completion of construction.
For more information, visit www.tabletopgamecafe.com.