Board-game cafe plans to open in North Berkeley by summer

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Ethan Epstein/Staff

A board-game cafe is expected to open in North Berkeley this summer, adding to Berkeley’s gaming community.

The Victory Point Cafe recently signed a lease for a space in the Hillside Village on Shattuck Avenue between Francisco and Delaware streets. The space was previously occupied by the Hippie Gypsy Cafe, which closed in 2013.

Derek DeSantis and Areg Maghakian, founders of the new cafe, said the space will feature locally brewed coffee, beer, snacks and a growing library of 500 board games upon its opening. The owners plan to charge $5 per day for access to their game library. They also plan to hire a “game guru” who will teach customers how to play the games.

According to the founders, the inspiration for the cafe came from existing board-game cafes in Europe and Asia. Maghakian himself visited, and was inspired by, Snakes and Lattes, a cafe in Canada, which similarly has a cover charge of $5 for all-day access to its board game collection.

“I fell in love with the concept,” Maghakian said. “It was bringing in so many different people, not just people who are considered hobby board gamers, but people all across the spectrum.”

According to Maghakian, Victory Point Cafe aims to provide a “nice, friendly, open atmosphere that is accessible to everyone and anyone” in a neighborhood cafe setting.

Maghakian and DeSantis both had plans to start a board-game cafe individually. After some research, Maghakian found DeSantis, and, through their shared passion for board games, they teamed up last summer to look for a place for their new business.

Although Berkeley has a number of well-known game shops, such as Games of Berkeley and Eudemonia, DeSantis and Maghakian believe their business will complement, rather than compete with, these local businesses.

Games of Berkeley offers tournaments and scheduled events, and Eudemonia also provides online gaming. The owners of Victory Point plan to sell only a limited selection of popular board games and hope to emphasize the community aspect of gaming.

Owners of existing game shops also seem to be supportive of the cafe. Erik Bigglestone, general manager at Games of Berkeley, said DeSantis and Maghakian had recently visited to talk about the new business. Bigglestone agreed that a cafe can help foster a larger gaming community in Berkeley.

“What usually happens with board-game cafes is that you see a revival of board-gaming culture,” Maghakian said. “People will come and play at the cafe, and if they like the games, they will go to the next board-game shop and try to pick it up.”

For the founders of Victory Point Cafe, the most urgent goals are to get the cafe ready for opening by early summer or mid-summer and to complete the promised collection of more than 500 board games.

Contact Frank Yu at [email protected].

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