Donuts and Dragons and Games, Oh My! New Board Game Cafe Opens in East End

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About six years ago, Gary Tibbett was in Toronto and happened to hear about Snakes and Lattes, a board game cafe. It also marked his returning interest in board games. “I fell in love with them and started hosting board game groups every week with my friends,” he said.

This April, Tippett opened Donuts and Dragons Board Game Cafe on Stavanger Drive, leaving his previous job at an e-learning company.

“I just decided to take a shot at it and open it up.” On the first day there was a lineup outside the door. Since then, he said the reception has been positive and he’s seen a lot of parents bringing their kids around for game night.

There are almost 300 games stocked in the cafe’s library, with 40 on backorder. By the end of 2017 that number should be up to 800. It costs $2.50 per person to play for an hour and for $6.00 they can stay all day.

There’s also a private room that can be rented for functions like birthday parties. As a cafe, food is also available, like soup and panini sandwiches, as well as beverages. There’s also a baker making gourmet donuts.

Tippett said that one of the most enjoyable aspects of opening up the board game cafe has been introducing a younger generation to board games. For him, board games are about making memories and he can still recall games he played with friends that happened six years ago.

Some of his fondest childhood memories were spent over games like Battleship and “Not putting any of the ships in the board and my brother trying to sink the ship,” he laughed.

While downtown St. John’s already has Mochanopoly, Tippett said “There’s enough of a community here to support two cafes… I’m looking to create a board game community for everyone.”

Donuts and Dragons staff can also recommend new games to customers and the shelves are stocked with what he calls “Gateway Games” that can lead people into playing others. So anyone who likes Cards Against Humanity might enjoy Cyanide and Happiness. It’s about getting people to try something they’ve never heard of before that’s similar enough to games they already love.

Board game cafes have a lot to offer people over staying home and playing on a console. It’s the “Social aspect, big time. Just to get together with your friends and to socialize and to experience game play together and just have a good time,” Tippett explained.

While Donuts and Dragons just opened, Tippet is still making plans. The cafe will eventually have Wednesday D&D nights, with a rotating roster of Dungeon Masters on hand to lead quests. And Tippett, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004, is planning to fundraise with the local MS Society in May to coincide with MS Awareness Month.

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Elizabeth Whitten

Elizabeth had an MA in Anthropology before she decided journalism school would lead to a far more lucrative deal. So now she has another degree and writes in St. John's.

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