About this project
Our vision for Bonus Round Game Cafe is to create a welcoming and safe environment for people from all walks of life to discover modern board gaming with their friends and family. We want to be a destination spot for Chicago's gamers, non-gamers and tourists alike.
Our secondary goal is to be a corner stone meeting place for Chicago's game development community. We want to be a place where they can build a relationship with the public through playtesting and learn to play events as well as a location to meet other designers and publishers to exchange ideas.
Clearly, it's not enough for us just to be a square room with a shelf of games and some tables to play them on. We've narrowed in on exactly what we want to offer and how we want to present it. Being an anchor point for Chicago's Board game community is important to us, but so is offering the best food and coffee we can find. This is why we are already partnering with Dark Matter Coffee and continuing to search for the tastiest pastries we can find!
I've been excited about Bonus Round Cafe, Chicago's first board gaming cafe, since hearing about it in summer 2015. But I'm even more excited after getting to know Courtney and Drew, the owners, and their commitment to both gaming and community. They're looking not only to create a cafe for gamers, but also a space for newcomers to the hobby, of all walks of life. Spaces like Bonus Round are vital to board gaming, which thrives on interaction and inclusivity, and I cannot wait for them to open their physical location. - Adrienne Ciskey, game designer & contributor at Meeples Included
Board game cafes rest at the crossroads of every day brick and mortar game store and the awesome cafe down the street. Over the last few years they've been growing in popularity in Europe, Canada and the US and soon Chicago! Whereas a traditional game retail store dedicates most of its floor space to inventory and shelves, our main focus will be on creating an engaging social space for people to play games. Bonus Round Cafe is based off a proven business model and we've already shown that there is a desire for us here in Chicago.
What we offer:
- Expansive and well-maintained game library
- Staff to teach games
- Delicious coffee
- Food & snacks to share
- An engaging and comfortable space to play in
- A safe and welcoming environment with a posted and enforced anti-harassment policy
Our pricing & revenue structure:
- Food & Snacks
- Cover Charge (~$7) per person: You can stay and play as long as you like. Other game cafes use a variety of pricing models but this is the one which we feel works best for everyone. We will be able to provide the best possible experience and you won't feel like you are on a rushed time limit. Just stopping in for coffee or a snack? No worries, the cover charge is only if you intend on staying for games.
Currently we are running Bonus Round as a Meetup group, with “pop-up” events weekly on the north side. We host 4-6 events a month and up to 10 in previous months, though we're winding down as the brick & mortar approaches fruition. There is a $5/month Meetup Membership fee, to offset the costs of the events, and ensure people follow through on their RSVP or free up space for others to join. Most events are at capacity with about 15-22 people coming out. Space at our venues has been the most limiting factor for some time which is why it's becoming so urgent that we open our doors. We are regularly bringing in a considerable amount of business for these venues on what might otherwise be a slow night.
For our pop-ups we bring a dozen or so games which hit a cross-section of our library. We try to offer a selection that varies between complexity, theme, duration, level of competitiveness and number of players. Groups form organically based on who's interesting in playing which games, as they do so we sit them down and go over the rules. Once they're set up we move on to the next group while checking back every so often to make sure everyone is still having fun, answer any questions and help clear the table of empty glasses or plates.
These events have worked as a great proof of concept. Hosting them over the last year and a half has helped us immensely with fine tuning what we offer and researching Chicago's neighborhoods regarding where we are most likely to fit in and thrive as a business. On that note we plan to open in the Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Uptown or Lincoln square neighborhoods which are all in close proximity and easily accessible by mass transit including the city's Red & Brown line trains.
Every bit helps and we appreciate your interest in Chicago's first board game cafe! You'll now be able to follow our campaign more closely by getting updates and leaving comments.
A pair of custom Bonus Round Chessex dice, and a cover charge voucher for the next time you're in Chicago! Shipped anywhere.
A bag of our custom blended Bonus Round whole bean coffee, a pair of custom Chessex dice and a cover charge voucher. Shipped US only.
All the Bonus Round swag you could want! A logo tee, a pair of our Chessex dice, a couple 3" stickers & 1" buttons. Shipped US only.
A 2 month membership for you and 4 cover charge vouchers so that you can bring a friend! As a Bonus Round Member you will not have to worry about paying the cover charge for the duration of your membership! See below for further details.
Join us in celebrating all the hard work we've put into making Bonus Round a reality at our invite only pre-opening party in the cafe! You'll be among the first to see the space as well as having a chance to play games with Courtney, Drew and other backers. You will also have the opportunity to sample our menu and be among the first to try our Bonus Round coffee blend from Dark Matter. Limited availability.
Invites to our pre-opening party for you and a friend, along with a 6 month membership for each of you. You can give the other membership to your bestie or keep it yourself so that you can always bring someone with you! See membership details below. Limited availability.
We'll host a private event for you and 14 of your closest friends or co-workers before Bonus Round opens! The event will be 4 hours and will include snacks and beverages for you and your guests. We will curate a selection of games and lead you through them based on your preferences. The whole cafe to yourselves for the deluxe game night experience! (A range of dates & times will be made available as we approach our opening day)
Add $50 for each person over 15, up to 25 total.
*Please contact us if you have any questions*
As a thanks for your support at this level you will become an honorary member of the Bonus Round family. Cover charges will be waived for you and a guest for Bonus Round Game Cafe's lifespan. Furthermore, we will also put your name on a shelf within the cafe and stock it with your top 5 games. This will be a way for you to personally help us curate what we have in our game library and each title will have a dedication nameplate inside the box cover. (There may be some restrictions based on print runs and availability of certain games)
*Please contact us if you have any questions*
We think Chicago is a pretty rad city and it certainly has a number of things going on that can be tied in with board game themes. Drew & Courtney will curate and take you out on a day of board games and Chicago destinations along with 2 of your friends. Lunch & dinner will be provided.
Additionally, as a thank you for playing such a large part in helping Bonus Round Game Cafe come to life this tier will also include everything listed above within the Lifetime Membership! A game shelf within the cafe influenced by and dedicated to you!
*Please contact us if you have any questions*
Memberships to the cafe were something that we went back and forth on for some time. Was the value : effort worth it for either us or the customer? What would be included? Was there any interest in it? In a sense these memberships from Kickstarter will be a trial run and they may not be offered again! So what are they?
- No cover charge for the duration of the membership.*
- A fancy membership card showing that you helped Bonus Round come to life
After this trial run we will have a better idea of whether it is worth extending the program or dropping it entirely. If we do extend it we may have a number of additions to spice things up a bit.
*Memberships from Kickstarter may not be stacked in order to extend the duration, there will only be either 2 month memberships or 6 month memberships for the purpose of the kickstarter. They will be offered as an addon to your pledge however if you would like to purchase them in addition to a different pledge or have extras to share with friends.
Drew ran a large record store in California before moving to Chicago to start Bonus Round. Since moving he has honed his game teaching skills through our pop-ups and by being part of the Chicago area demo team for major game publishers.
Since moving to Chicago, Courtney has found herself immersed in the local coffee culture and can't wait for Bonus Round to join it. Feeling uncomfortable with the larger gaming community herself, she's incredibly passionate about making Bonus Round a welcoming place for everyone.
We want to give special thanks to the Beermiscuous & Osmium staff for letting us use their space for our events the last year+, Dark Matter Coffee for eagerly signing on as our coffee vendor, Ben Pierro & Kurt Brunhuber for being enormously supportive and for their help running the pop-up events, Rachel Dukes for always coming through when we need new art, and finally Grandpa Bill for always being there for us.
Courtney and Drew come in with a smile and the kind of excitement that not only fuels all the gamers but the staff as well. Always willing to adjust when needed, they have not only gone beyond the call of duty to execute a fun and welcoming experience while teaching games but also make an extra effort to help people find new friends. Bonus Round has helped bring in new customers and broadcast our mission statement of trying new things in an inviting and friendly atmosphere. We have loved having them and can only hope for the best with their new spot! - Anna Lindquist, Beermiscuous
Bonus Round has been in the works for over three years. During that time we've worked day in and day out on making it become a reality. There have been countless long nights discussing the nuances of trying to create the best possible experience which we think you deserve... it hasn't all been fun and games. Starting our pop-up events was the first major springboard in introducing Bonus Round and launching this Kickstarter is the next step in bringing Chicago its first board game cafe!
Most of the money to open the cafe is already in place, but this Kickstarter campaign will help us make it the rest of the way and then some. Our goal with this campaign is not only to raise funds to put some extra polish on the cafe from day one, but also to raise awareness of what we're trying to create.
The money from our Kickstarter campaign will primarily be going towards three things:
- Furnishings & Decor: Having great tables and shelves is obviously important, but so is having a warm & engaging atmosphere!
- Marketing: Board game cafes are doing incredibly well right now & we want to make sure that we can raise as much awareness as possible so that we hit the ground running right from day one.
- Game Library: We're barely able to squeeze more titles on our shelves as it is, but once the cafe is open we'll need to dramatically expand the library. Not only do we plan to do that with some of the money from this campaign but we also plan to get some input from our backers (YOU) along the way!
Art by: Rachel Dukes
Video by: Sean Austin
Risks and challenges
-Underestimating the scope of the project: Drew has past experience opening new retail locations but this is the first business that we've started from the ground up ourselves. The financing stage is behind us which is where we primarily lacked experience. With Bonus Round we are not trying to cast too wide a net, we are honed in on offering a specific experience for our customers.
-Delays in the permitting process: Chicago is notoriously slow when it comes to permitting, to top things off the city and state are both in a budget crisis. Courtney has experience working in a food handling environment and is meticulous when it comes to inspections. Food Health inspections are one of the largest causes of delays for restaurants but we already have plans in place so that we stay on top of the requirements and that nothing is overlooked. Delays are still possible and may cause us to miss our goal of opening by December. We will make sure to keep everyone well informed of our progress!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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