Queen & Rook has only been open for a little for over a week and already has regulars. Honestly, we’re not surprised. This board game cafe in Queen Village offers over 1,200 games just on site, and another 1,000 kept in storage. The options available range from every special edition of Monopoly, to several versions of Apples to Apples, and even some raunchy adult truth–based games. The shop also has game experts wandering around the cafe and providing game recommendations. With a selection this extensive, the fledging business is trying to make board games cool again.
Founder and manager, Edward Garcia, first stumbled upon a board game cafe in Montreal when visiting for a friend’s bachelor party. The dinner at the party contained meat, leading Garcia and his few other vegetarian friends to venture off and find something else to eat. Here, Garcia stumbled across Randolph, the first board game cafe he had ever seen. After spending hours playing, drinking, and eating, Garcia was infatuated with his experience: “Everyone was just enjoying; there were no phones. It was just a different vibe.”
Coming back to the East Coast, Garcia began his search for his local board game cafe, only to find that there was only one in New York. Having received his MBA from Temple, the idea of bringing the board game cafe to Philadelphia just made sense. In an effort to perfect his shop, Garcia travelled across the West Coast and Canada, where board game cafes are more heavily concentrated, and drew from his favorite aspects as he created his own cafe.
The cafe is currently open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The use of the games is free from Monday through Wednesday with a $7 charge for 3 hours of gaming per person Thursday through Sunday. Apart from this, the shop has an extensive drink menu with options ranging from Rosé to a classic milkshake. The food menu has an expansive vegan/vegetarian selection alongside the typical bar foods available. Relying on social media marketing through Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, but most importantly word of mouth, Queen & Rook quite literally speaks for itself.
The idea of turning family game night into a restaurant is genius. Still, the shop means more than just a source of money to Garcia. Queen and Rook stands to encourage certain values with its shop. The cafe tries its best to remain as sustainable as possible, using paper straws, emphasizing vegan options while composting its leftovers. Beyond that, Garcia focuses on inclusion. The company itself is majority–owned by women and people of color, with the staff mirroring this diversity. Garcia hopes to bring old–school joy back with his shop while improving upon an industry often bereft of racial and gender awareness.
I was a bit nervous when I decided to check out the cafe, as my luck with board games extends solely to my ability to flip the board after I lose. Walking into Queen & Rook, however, the energy was palpable: people were drinking, laughing, yelling, and rolling dice. It felt like a bar designed to evoke colorful childhood memories. My friends and I were overwhelmed with the list of games available, and we pulled out Sorry, Shoots and Ladders, Apples to Apples, and a new game, Social Sabotage, just to start.
We were seated at a table set up with cushions perfectly designed for game–playing. After ordering our food, we immediately laid out the cards for Social Sabotage, texting, tweeting, and Instagramming embarrassing photos and statements just to win the game. We ordered typical bar foods—mozzarella sticks, nachos, popcorn (made in shop), and a beautiful designed cheese board, and while the food was nothing special, it was exactly what we needed to encourage us to keep playing.
One hour passed. Two hours passed. Three hours passed. Time flew by without notice; we couldn’t bring ourselves to get up and leave. We had been receiving texts and snaps all night of friends questioning our whereabouts, eager to find out more about Queen & Rook Cafe and what it had to offer. We all told them the same thing: Queen & Rook is a must–visit. Set up a date night or maybe just grab some friends; you can even bring your parents here. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to unplug and crowd around a game board with some friends.