Starting a Board Game Cafe


The Uncommons, Manhattan’s inaugural board game cafe, has delighted gamers since 2013. This inviting space offers appetizers and sandwiches alongside beer, boba tea, and coffee – ideal for gaming enthusiasts of all kinds!

People today are searching for more connections offline, making board game cafes an appealing concept. Before opening one of your own, however, it is essential to understand all of its fundamentals.

The Business Model

Board game cafes make most of their revenue by selling games to customers. Some also provide food and beverages to their patrons; private rooms may even be available to rent; they can even make extra cash by hosting events, tournaments, or game nights for their clientele.

Many board game cafes boast an impressive variety of games, ranging from timeless classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble to collectible card games like Chess. Their inventory may include hundreds of options, and new titles are added regularly – the best board game cafes may even stock over one thousand titles for patrons to play!

An essential expense of any board game cafe is purchasing and maintaining an expansive inventory, including initial purchases, storage space, and shelving needs. Furthermore, restaurants must keep an updated list of games in stock and regularly replace damaged or obsolete items.

Advertise and market. Board game cafes use different tactics to attract customers, such as social media, website promotion, local radio and television ads, and word of mouth. They may partner with nearby restaurants and cafes to host game nights or tournaments to generate additional exposure for their business.

As with other entertainment establishments, board game cafes’ profitability depends directly on their number of customers. A busy restaurant can rake in thousands – or even hundreds of thousands! of dollars annually through customers paying small fees each time they visit to play a game at this establishment.

Some board game cafes have fee structures similar to bowling alleys, where customers pay per visit, hour, or game played. Such fees can encourage people to stay longer at a cafe – leading to increased profits for that establishment. Furthermore, certain board game cafes also host leagues or tournaments featuring specific games, with prizes awarded to winners to promote these events and bring new customers.

Licenses and Permits

In addition to local government regulations, board game cafes may require state licenses and permits to operate legally. Failing to acquire these can result in either fines or the closure of your business – so contact your state’s small business development center, chamber of commerce, or economic development agency today to learn which specific licenses and permits you’ll require for operation.

Many board game cafes increase their overall revenue by offering high-quality snacks and drinks as part of their offering, creating another revenue source and keeping customers coming back for more food, drink, and gaming. When selecting products, choose high-quality ones while maintaining an effective tracking system to track inventory levels and sales.

After conducting market research, develop a business plan that details your goals, strategies, and steps for opening and running a board game cafe. Your plan should also contain financial projections and estimated startup costs so that you can accurately gauge how much capital to put toward this endeavor.

If your board game cafe plans on serving food, obtaining a permit from your local health department may be required. Furthermore, consider including in your lease agreement a clause that requires the landlord to obtain a certificate of occupancy before leasing space for your business.

Based on your location, to sell alcohol at your establishment, you may require a liquor license and have a fire marshal inspect your premises to ensure all the necessary fire codes have been met and that patrons are safe on your premises.

Once you have researched and prepared a sound business plan, begin searching for investors. Securing funding will require a compelling pitch and solid financial projections; attend networking events and reach out to local angel investor groups in your area in search of potential sources of finance. Also, consider bank loans, as these may become easier once your plan has been written and you’ve demonstrated your ability to run a board game cafe business.


Board game cafes must secure insurance to protect themselves from operational risks. Business owners have various policies, including general liability, workers’ compensation, crime insurance, and umbrella policies. Broad liability coverage typically protects against accidental injuries while playing a game and medical costs or property damages that occur from unexpected events like fire or natural disasters.

Many board game cafes increase their revenue by selling snacks and beverages to customers. A wide selection of food and drinks will attract a broader audience and foster repeat visits; additionally, some cafes may provide membership cards that earn them discounts on purchases of games or accessories.

The staff of board game cafes must adhere to established safety procedures to create an enjoyable customer experience, including rules regarding food and equipment handling and how to resolve disputes between gamers. Training employees on these procedures will help prevent accidents that could damage the reputation of their businesses.

Budgeting for a board game cafe will enable its owners to control operating expenses better. This may include rent, utilities and staff wages, inventory supplies, and marketing initiatives to promote it. Furthermore, an establishment should establish financial goals to guide its growth and success.

Recent years have witnessed an explosive surge in board game cafe popularity, driven by people’s desire for social gatherings outside their homes and workplaces. Board game cafes provide an ideal venue where friends, family members, and strangers can come together in an environment that promotes comfort and welcomeness.

Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg describes in his book The Great Good Place that people and societies need ‘third places’ beyond home and work, where people can interact and feel connected. These spaces can offer fun ways for friends, families, coworkers, and patrons alike to spend quality time together while creating lasting bonds between individuals.

Business Plan

An effective business plan is essential when starting a board game cafe. It will enable you to assess how much capital is necessary and when your establishment will become profitable. Furthermore, create a comprehensive action plan to meet your goals.

Your board game cafe business plan should cover several key areas, including what type of games will be sold and their marketing/staffing requirements. Furthermore, creating a business plan will allow you to set realistic budgets and identify target markets more precisely while helping prevent costly errors that can waste your time and money.

Assembling a business plan for a board game cafe may seem challenging, but having a clear vision of your goals and the steps needed to reach them is essential. Remember that your business will change as it develops; be open-minded enough to change and adjust plans as necessary.

Board game cafes provide an enjoyable space for people to socialize and have fun together, providing an innovative new way for friends or even new people to connect. In addition to offering various board game titles, board game cafes often also offer refreshments that add extra enjoyment to the experience.

Board game cafes generate revenue by charging clients to play. Fees may be charged per visit, hour, or game played, and in addition to this service, they may host tournaments and themed gaming nights that attract customers while building customer loyalty.

Board game cafes can also generate additional income by selling merchandise like T-shirts and mugs to their customers as a great way to promote the business and draw in new business. In addition, providing food and beverages may increase profits, and offering subscription services that give access to games and facilities at fixed monthly fees.