News / Edmonton

Edmonton’s board game business passes 'Go'

Table Top opens a second location on 124 Street as Hexagon plans expansion as well.

Brian Flowers is the owner of Edmonton’s Table Top board game cafes.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

Brian Flowers is the owner of Edmonton’s Table Top board game cafes.

Table Top, Edmonton’s first board game café, is rolling the dice on a second location that officially launches this weekend on 124 Street.

The first café to bring the trend to Edmonton, the original 75 Street location, opened its doors in late 2013. Owner Brian Flowers says sales doubled over the first year, and have remained strong despite the recent downturn.

“I’m the cheapest date night in Edmonton that I know of, and in a recession that’s pretty good for me,” he says.

The new Table Top is more than 3,000 square feet, with a seating capacity of 100—making it about 50 per cent bigger than the original location. Flowers says occasional 25-table waiting lists convinced him he needed more space.

Edmonton’s other board game café, Hexagon on Whyte Avenue, is also eyeing an expansion. Co-owner Randy Wong says they’re in the process of leasing a space in Calgary to house a planned second location.

He credits the recent popularity to a different way to socialize.

“They’re a good alternative, it’s something interactive compared to going to a pub and trying to yell across a table at each other,” he says.

Flowers agrees — and adds new games also cater to a more social setting.

“Settlers [of Catan] was the catalyst for things, and it’s 20 years old now,” he says, referring to the popular board game. “There are so many new games that are just cleaner and faster.”

He says new games typically take 30 to 45 minutes to play, unlike older games like Monopoly, and tend not to eliminate people before the end, making them more group-friendly.

“People are tired of looking at their cell phones,” he says. “Here you can keep your head up and actually spend time with the people you came to spend time with.”

 

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