If you're an Angeleno looking to take a Risk, break monotony's Monopoly on your life and say “Sorry!” to the usual weekend routine, have the guys behind GameHäus Café got an offer for you.
Robert Cron and Terry Chiu have thrust themselves into a new venture in Glendale that opened in late November: a board game café designed to get patrons off their phones and tablets and into a rousing round of fun. An impossible task in the fast-paced world of 2013? Perhaps. But inspired by the rousing success of Toronto's similar Snakes & Lattes, the guys think L.A. is ready to sacrifice Words With Friends for good ol' Scrabble.
Simply put, Cron and Chiu are just two guys, staring at a city, asking that city to love board games.
In 2010, Cron was working in the film and television industry, watching more and more productions shift away from shooting in L.A. He admits he wasn't happy with his work, and felt a need to do something else. Chiu had been working in graphic design, but was laid off in 2011. The two friends, who have known each other for over a decade, had been in the same board gaming group through MeetUp.com for some time, saw the chance to try something new.
“The board game group demonstrated to us how board games can help build a community,” Chiu said. “It's created an astounding number of connections and friendships in the group.”
Despite the great aspects, Cron and Chiu's group could never find quite the right space. So they decided to build one of their own.
The café, located in Glendale, includes a library of over 700 board games, as well as a kitchen for selling food and drinks.
GameHäus Café was planned as the first of its kind in L.A. devoted entirely to the joint board game/café experience. “There are places, like I think Syrup downtown which is a coffee shop, have board games, but it's not a selling point, it's just an afterthought,” Cron said. “None of them have really said, 'Come here specifically for this activity.'”
The goal isn't to just draw the gamers, however. Cron and Chiu emphasized a desire to draw in all kinds, including those who don't know many games. One big hope is to pull in novices with specialized learning sessions, especially for more complicated European games like Settlers of Catan.
In addition to those learning sessions, the founders are planning several specialty nights, including a singles night and a date night. It's Cron and Chiu's hope that events like these, combined with L.A.'s naturally adventurous spirit, will convince its citizens to give up the hottest clubs for a night and enjoy the experience of board gaming.
“It seems to be a city where people like to try new things,” Chiu said. “It seemed like fertile ground for creating something that's different.”
GameHäus Café has a special New Year's Eve event that costs $10 and lasts from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. For more info call (818) 937-9061 or visit www.gamehauscafe.com.
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