Picture this: you’re in the house you grew up in, sitting cross-legged on the green carpet floor in the basement, board game boxes scattered behind you. Some have washed-out ink, some have battered corners because the cat or dog found them, and some have one or two cheesy-fingerprint-stains. But all of the pieces are in immaculate condition because these little tabletop games are your greatest collection as an eight-year-old. You’re sitting with a couple of lights on – just enough so that you and your friends (and your annoying little brother) can read the rules. You all sit in quiet concentration as you await the selected player to make their move. They place the piece and…that’s game over! Everyone throws their figurine, cards, and the dice onto the board with a sigh of relief and maybe some laughter or frustration.
Does this sound familiar? There’s just something special about playing board games. I’m not talking about playing Mario on a 50-inch smart TV or playing Candy Crush on your smartphone, although those are great too. It’s the classic tabletop games that bring out that sense of nostalgia and laughter so hard you almost cry.
Not everyone has a shelf or closet dedicated to board games and VHS tapes anymore. They take up a lot of space and sometimes you don’t want to spend money on a board game you and your family may get bored with in the future. Enter Pieces Boardgame Café, the newest entertainment spot in Belleville! They’re taking the nostalgic feeling of playing board games and combining it with a welcoming space that offers fun away from the screen.
Pieces Boardgame Café opened its doors in May of this year, located within the Reid’s Dairy castle plaza. Brenda Ripley is the cafe owner, greeting you at the door with a warm and friendly smile. Brenda grew up in the 80s, spending a big chunk of her childhood playing board games and understanding the importance of spending time with family. Her love for social interaction and games carried out into her adult life, working as an Adult Day Program Coordinator planning activities for children every day. She understands that not everyone enjoys sports or technology – what else is there to do if you don’t like these popular forms of entertainment? Now a mother of two boys, she wants to share her passion for board games and inspire the community to spend more face-to-face time together enjoying a hobby that everyone loves. So, the Pieces Boardgame Café was born.
Many of the hip game cafes are located in downtown Toronto, offering hundreds of games, loud music and a liquor license – these places are fun, but Brenda wanted her cafe to be more intimate and family-friendly. She opened Pieces Boardgame Café in Belleville because she realizes that this region is great for raising a young family, the community is very supportive, and “What girl doesn’t want to own a business in a castle?” The cafe is right beside Reid’s Dairy and the beautiful turtle pond, a spot she often sits at during her breaks on a busy day. Brenda encourages people to come in even if they’re not interested in playing a game – the cafe is fully functioning offering plenty of coffee beverages, grilled cheese, candy and free wifi. Sit and do some work with a coffee or visit with a friend. Even though she focuses on getting away from the screen and playing games, she wants Pieces to be a welcoming place for everyone.
“What girl doesn’t want to own a business in a castle?”
Right now the Pieces Boardgame Cafe has over 150 games, including all of the classics like Clue, Monopoly and Jenga. You will also find puzzles, rubix cubes, colouring books and party games like Cards Against Humanity (18+) and Werewolf. There’s something available for everyone. Doesn’t this place sound exciting?
So, this is how it works: walk in the door solo or with a team, pay $6 at the counter (plus any drinks or snacks) which will grant you access to any of the games, grab a game (or two) and bring it to your table, then enjoy a night full of fun, chuckles and friendship! Recently they have also been offering weekly events like Harry Potter trivia nights or Dungeons and Dragons Junior. Check out their events calendar for more information. The space is also available to book for special events.
You’ve heard plenty about the board games, but what about the snacks?! If you’re anything like me I require a bucket full of grade A snacks to be able to get through a game of Catan. The menu currently offers an array of affordable snack options, which are either homemade by Brenda or brought in by local artisans. Enjoy a cup of candy favourites, a grilled cheese sandwich, milk and cookies or just a coffee to keep the competitive juices going. The Candy Cup is Brenda’s favourite snack option on the menu. Choose from ten different candies (all of her favourites) like sour gummies and M&M’s to make your very own sugar mix in a cup!
Having art on the wall from local artists is also an important way to help the community for the Pieces Boardgame Café. If it is fan art or board game-related art, contact them for further information. All sales go towards the artists. There’s also a new Loyalty Program available for gamers who spend time at the cafe on a regular basis or to encourage new participants to keep coming back. Playing a game costs $6 per visit and the Loyalty Program provides the opportunity to play for FREE on the seventh visit.
There’s lot’s going on at the Pieces Boardgame Café If you’re stuck in a rut with Netflix-binging (like I was) and want to try something different on a Friday night, you wish to get back to your childhood roots or to do something fun with your own children, this is the next up-and-coming place for Belleville entertainment. Next time you’re in line at Reid’s Dairy waiting for a milkshake, pop into Pieces to see the excitement for yourself.
The cafe is only four months old, so please give them any love or feedback you may have on Facebook or through their website. Brenda is always looking for suggestions to improve your experience and ways to collaborate and grow.