What is a play cafe?
We're creating The Uncommons to fill a simple need: a great place to play games with friends. Bars are usually too dark and too loud. Most coffee shops in New York City don't have enough space to play, and they rarely offer games beyond chess or Scrabble. And none offer mini-donuts!
The Uncommons will be different - we'll offer a wide library of games, as many as we can fit, and charge a nominal cover fee (likely $5 per person).
How are you different?
There are plenty of great coffee shops in NYC, but they rarely stay open late. There are a couple of game stores locally, but they generally miss out on opportunities to sell food and drinks to customers, or offer few options. Meetups and student groups are always looking for spaces where they can meet, and plenty of friends were looking for alternatives to bars.
We plan on attracting commuters and telecommuters for the coffee and a lunchtime crowd as well. In the evenings, we'll set aside most tables to gamers of every variety- from collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering to 'Euro-style' games like Settlers of Catan, and classics as well.
Plus, we hope to offer our secret-recipe special mini-donuts, hot and fresh, throughout the day. There are few donut shops that offer them nearby, and it's a great fit for students. And they are easy to eat while playing a round of Cards Against Humanity or The Resistance!
What's on the menu?
We'll be using locally-roasted specialty coffee for drip and espresso beverages, and offer a wide range of excellent teas. Our team has worked in specialty foods, so we'll also have a selection of interesting drinks that are hard to find elsewhere.
In addition to other snack options, we hope to provide on-demand, made-while-you-wait miniature donuts. Patrons will be able to choose a topping, from unique sugar and spice blends to chocolate, caramel, or maple syrups and sauces.
We plan to offer soups and sandwiches for lunch, bagels and pastries for breakfast.
Where are you going to be located? When will you open?
We're opening at 230 Thompson Street in New York City, right near the NYU campus, in the heart of Greenwich Village. We've targeted late October to be up and running. And it will be easy to get to The Uncommons- we're within a few blocks of the 1, 6, A, B, C, D, E, F, M, N, and R trains!
The former occupant of the space is the famous Village Chess Shop. They were open for forty years at that location, 24 hours a day. Celebrity visitors included everyone from Heath Ledger (who played weekly there and was quite good) to Woody Allen (who filmed some scenes there with Larry David).
It's a perfect spot to continue the legacy of board gaming.
We're proud to be working with the local chess community, continuing with the neighborhood roots!
What about [insert name here]?
We love Twenty-Sided Store and Brooklyn Strategist. We regularly visit Montasy and Games Workshop and Compleat Strategist. But they're out of the way, focused on kids or families, lack space to play, or specialize in particular games or titles. We're not going to carry everything- no miniatures for example, not much role-playing- but we hope to offer a comfortable and convenient location for New Yorkers, tourists, friends, and families alike.
We're definitely inspired by Snakes and Lattes in Toronto, as well as others from around the world. The concept might have originated in Asia, but others like Spielwiese in Berlin or the cute volunteer-run spot in Lyon have popularized it. But none of them offer mini-donuts!
What games will you have?
We plan to have most of the BoardGameGeek Most-Reviewed List- everything from Carcassonne to Cards Against Humanity, Dominion to Arkham Horror, Pandemic to Game of Thrones. And The Uncommons will definitely support independent and local game designers.
Plus, we'll host regular tournaments, for both casual and serious players, as well as weekly events like the ever-popular Friday Night Magic. Expect pre-release and release events as well!
Why Kickstarter? What are you doing with the money?
We've already created an LLC, reached our initial funding needs, signed a lease, and started setting up the space. The Uncommons is well on the way to becoming a reality after months of hard work.
After paying for Kickstarter fees and rewards/fulfillment costs, your contribution will go directly to help us add new board games to the library and improve the space.
And we plan on setting aside some of the Kickstarter funds to explore the addition of a mini-donut machine to our facility, likely an automatic model.
What are the rewards? And is there a stretch goal?
The Uncommons will be charging a small fee, likely $5 per person, for those who wish to borrow and play games from our library. But Kickstarter backers can earn a limited pass that waives these fees, for those who would like to support us and save money over the long term.
These vouchers will allow a single individual to borrow games free of charge, and do not guarantee access to any particular games. We will offer discounts on food and beverages to such Kickstarter backers, and may offer additional benefits (such as the ability to bring a friend on specific days, or a limited number of guest passes). We may require a a voucher to reserve tables, and will likely offer special backer-only events, contests, and tournaments.
When you opt for these type of rewards, your voucher will continue for a set period, traditionally six calendar months or one calendar year from the date of activation.
Rewards can "stack"- that is, you're welcome to purchase a coffee mug and a voucher as well as an invitation to the Backers-Only party. We kept rewards separate specifically to allow this!
Update: the Backers Party is sold out! But we've added a stretch goal- anyone who donates over $10 gets their first cup of coffee free, if we reach $10000! We're not far away!
Press coverage and special thanks:
Jen Carlson at Gothamist: http://gothamist.com/2013/09/27/greenwich_village_board_game_cafe_o.php
Risks and challenges
Every business faces risks, and all the more so in New York City. This isn't a traditional Kickstarter project though- we're already actively engaged in starting up, and have set aside well over $100,000 to make this dream come true. Construction is almost done now!
For the most part, the rewards are not dependent upon us succeeding- we've already priced out coffee mugs and coffee, as well as determined fulfillment options to get them shipped.
The voucher rewards will have some terms and conditions- they are non-transferable, and of course are only valuable if and as long as we stay in business.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)