Edward Schmalz, 24, grew up in a “constantly digitally connected” world. But he found one way to unplug: board games.
Schmalz and his friends had quite a collection and in playing, they learned how to form alliances and backstab their allies to win at Risk, negotiate deals in The Settlers of Catan, and build and explore fantasy worlds in Dungeons & Dragons.
Now Schmalz plans to share his enthusiasm with the public as a partner in a new board game cafe.
Pawns and Pints plans an early October opening at 221 Southwest Blvd.
The 3,000-square-foot space will have shelves stocked with more than 500 different board games — Pandemic, Twilight Struggle, Age of Steam, Pathfinder, chess, Scrabble and more. It will have nearly 20 tables, some custom made. It also will offer craft beers, coffee, soda, sandwiches, pastries, cereal and snacks.
Hours are tentatively set as 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cover charge will be $5 for unlimited play. It also will offer memberships, including a one-month membership for unlimited play for $25.
Pawns and Pints will host tournaments, game designer nights with designers testing their prototypes, open evenings where players can find new groups to play with, speed dating, trivia nights, and specialty drink events to showcase a craft beer.
Schmalz teamed up with friends Martha Bartell, Jon Steel and Mark Schneider in the new cafe.
Schmalz is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in education (current favorite game is Carcassonne). Bartell has experience in small-business management and accounting (current favorite game is Kingmaker). Steel is an entrepreneur (current favorite game is Betrayal at House on the Hill). Schneider is a member of the Army Corps of Engineers (current favorite game is Axis & Allies).
“Anytime Mark and I play, I think his goal is just to make sure I lose. He always beats me,” Schmalz said.
The partners have already exceeded their $10,000 Kickstarter goal, raising $11,883 from 182 backers with 32 days to go as of Thursday afternoon.
Board game cafes are increasing in popularity, popping up in cities around the world — from Omaha, Neb.’s Spielbound Board Game Cafe to Berlin’s Spielwiese to Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes.
Independence’s Game Cafe opened a decade ago on the square, and most customers are in their 20s and 30s. It is a family-friendly operation that does not serve alcohol.
“When we started, the term ‘game day cafe’ was very popular overseas, especially in Asian countries,” said Tom Bumgardner, owner of Game Cafe. “It’s a way of entertainment that’s non-electronic. This is more of a social setting. And maybe they were just used to Monopoly or Life, but there a lot better games out now — gets them to understand strategy and trying to win the game but also having fun.”