Now that Terry Chiu and Robert Cron have moved into Glendale’s historic Seeley Studios, they’re on a quest to make new again of what’s old, particularly when it comes to board games.
The two longtime friends and board-game aficionados opened what may be the first café of its kind in Los Angeles with board games as its centerpiece. The café was inspired, in part, by Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes, a café that blends board games and food — the kind of place that was sought after by Cron and Chiu, who have played games together for years with friends.
Chiu and Cron opened GameHaüs Café in mid-November giving patrons access to more than 700 board games, with titles beyond Clue, Monopoly, Sorry! and Battleship, which one would expect to find here.
Although those familiar games are the first to greet customers when they approach the café’s vast selection, Cron and Chiu have hundreds more, many from Europe, that they say have revolutionized board games in the past 10 to 15 years for not being centered on player elimination.
A favorite between the two is Arkham Horror, a game set in 1926 in a small town in Massachusetts, where monsters have begun to invade humans.
Games like Pandemic, where players must find a cure after a disease has broken out around the world, Cron said, are part of a new crop of cooperative games that have emerged in the last several years where players must work together and prove successful enough with their own strategy, or the game wins.
“Gaming has sort of grown up,” Cron said. “It’s not Candy Land anymore. It’s not Chutes and Ladders….we all grew up playing games and gaming has sort of followed suit.”
A favorite of Chiu’s is Zombicide, which captures the fear of a zombie apocalypse so well, he said, “It makes you feel like you’re in a movie because there’s danger around every corner.”
In the weeks since GameHaüs has opened, Cron and Chiu have also seen customers come in merely to play the old favorites such as Operation.
Their goal was to open a café with a warm, inviting feeling, and as some games call for hours of time, and some customers stay all day to play at the café, only to return the next day to do it all again.
The kitchen serves espresso drinks, pizzas, sandwiches and paninis, or patrons can snack on cakes made by Tasteful Cakes, a Corona-based business. The menu also features apple, berry and chocolate pies made in house by Chiu, who also bakes the café’s scones of raspberry cream cheese and ginger currant, among other flavors.
The Werewolf sandwich, made with roast beef, cheddar cheese and Sriracha mayo, along with lettuce and tomato, is “perfect sustenance for hunting down werewolves in your village,” according to the menu.
The café purposefully does not feature wireless Internet, a decision Chiu and Cron made early on after experiencing their own friends being too tempted with the digital game Candy Crush Saga or Facebook during their own board-game sessions.
As a result, families, couples and friends are left to reconnect, without phones, and both Chiu and Cron enjoy the interactions they see. So far, they say, their shop has been popular as a date-night location.
“It lets us be kids again,” Cron said, instead of worrying about checking email. “We’re going to fight the dragon and save the princess.”
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.