Brian Flowers may have gotten some doubtful looks when he was in the planning stages of his local business idea back in 2012, but now that his board game cafe has been open for a year, he mostly sees faces of awe and excitement.
Table Top Cafe opened on Oct. 26, 2013, but Flowers said getting the café ready to go came with initial challenges. “There are so many ways different situations could have gone that would have ended my little dream before [Table Top] was even open, but becoming an entrepreneur has been the scariest, most rewarding, and most exciting thing I have ever done,” he said.
Thanks to the growing Edmonton local business community, Flowers didn’t need to look far for support. “The business community has been excellent. I have many offers from other businesses to do some sort of cross promotion, many looking to book corporate events, and even more telling me they are spreading the word to as many as they can,” Flowers said. “I have had excellent media exposure on TV, radio and paper, all mostly due to word of mouth and people generally liking the whole concept and my little version of it.”
The board game cafe concept has been growing in Vancouver and Toronto for a few years, but Flowers was the first to bring the idea here to Edmonton. At Table Top, it only costs $5 a person to stay for as long as you like and play any number of games.
With 400 to 500 different board games in stock and ready to play, there are options for those who are brand new to board gaming, casual board gamers, and even the competitive board gamer. Offering an impressive selection, Flowers is always keeping his game inventory fresh. “The number changes weekly as I add new games and pull out unpopular ones,” he said. If you want to try a new game but aren’t sure how to play it, chances are that Flowers can teach you. “I know how to play at least half of them. I try to stay current and teach myself games as often as I can.”
Not only will Flowers teach everyone new games, but there are also tournaments held regularly for popular games like Cards Against Humanity, Dominion and Ticket to Ride. For $10 or $15, you can join the tournament, take a stab at winning prizes, and meet some new people.
Table Top Cafe has a growing menu that includes a variety of food items like candy bowls, chips n’dip, paninis, and burritos. Along with an espresso machine for mochas, lattes and hot chocolates, the café is licensed and offering a selection of coolers and beer, including Edmonton’s own Alley Kat.
The board game community in Edmonton is growing, so much that another board game cafe recently opened on Whyte Ave. While Flowers wasn’t expecting to keep a monopoly on the concept in Edmonton forever, he admits he didn’t think a competitor would open so soon. Flowers sees the positive in it though. “Overall it is a good thing for board gaming in Edmonton as it increases awareness and exposure for the hobby,” he said, with a true Edmonton entrepreneur spirit.
With the first year under his belt, Flowers said he is feeling good about the growth of Table Top and is starting to look at future plans. “My goal is to open a second cafe in Edmonton as soon as I can wrap my head around it,” he states, adding that opening a cafe in Calgary is an idea down the road too.
To celebrate the Cafe’s one-year anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 26, Flowers is throwing a One Year Anniversary Weekend party starting on Friday, Oct. 24. There will be draws all weekend for prizes like board games, one year memberships to the cafe, and group play packs. Board games, food, and drink will be 20 per cent off all weekend, and on Sunday there will be a Cards Against Humanity tournament.