COLLEGE PARK – At a new café, the Board and Brew, hundreds of board games fill wooden shelves. The collection includes household classics such as Life, but also specialty games such as Agricola, a farm resource management game.
There’s a game out there for everybody, according to owners Brian McClimens, 36, and Ben Epstein, 35.
The café opened Monday, offering customers coffee and other drinks ranging from $3 to $5, small food plates around $4, and sandwiches and salads that range from $8 to $10.
McClimens, of Bowie, and Epstein, of Catonsville, said they hope their café will help fill the entertainment void in College Park.
“In college, we played a lot of games,” Epstein said. “The whole gambit – video games, board games, poker. You name it, we did it,” he said.
The duo met while they studied at the University of Maryland in the late 90s, but they said they felt like there weren’t enough entertainment options, either on or off-campus.
“At [the University of Maryland], in terms of entertainment, you really had the theater on campus, then you’ve got the bars,” Epstein said. “Within walking distance, there’s really nothing there. “
Patrons can pay a flat rate of $5 per person to play board games for the whole day. Visitors can swap board games as many times as they want. The café has about 500 board games, according to Epstein, and the café is within walking distance of the College Park campus.
“Board games are great,” Epstein said. “There’s such a huge variety of types of games and the number of people you can play with.”
In addition to serving food and drink and offering board games for customers, McClimens and Epstein plan on holding weekly open mic nights, tournaments for various games, board game leagues and magic nights, Epstein said. They also plan on hosting date nights in conjunction with online dating services.
“I think if they had something like this when we were in college, we would have come,” Epstein said. “Besides students, there are lots of families, 20 and 30-year-olds,” he said. “It’s a really great fit.”
Epstein said he and McClimens thought of creating a café with board games about three years ago.
“I don’t think either of us expected it come to fruition,” Epstein said.
Epstein said potential investors, friends and family were really supportive of the idea.
“We thought we could really do this, and it kind of took off,” Epstein said. “When we get to fall semester, we’ll be completely ready to go.”
Victoria Abashkin, a recent UMD alumna, said she wanted to check the business out because of the coffee shop environment.
“College Park doesn’t have enough places like this,” Abashkin said.
Kelsey Morking, of St. Mary’s County, was in the area to visit a friend.
“They have really good coffee and food,” she said.
Epstein said they are in the process of applying for a liquor license.
“We’d do craft beers and wine,” Epstein said. “We want a nice ambiance, a nice, relaxed place. We don’t want to be a bar.”