As Mumbai readies to host a Scrabble championship this weekend, and with many hip eateries and pubs stocking up on board games, city folk seem to be tripping over a game of Jenga with Jägerbombs or Checkers over chops and Caipiroskas.
There was a time when a few Mumbai eateries like Bombay Blue and New Yorker, would offer sharpened pencils and activity sheets packed with word and picture puzzles that were solved while waiting for orders or while tucking into pizzas. These days, you can indulge in a game of Jenga, Taboo, Mikado, Monopoly or try out Fletter —the newest word game on the block — as you down shots or enjoy a mid-week meal at a restaurant.
A few hip eateries like Hoppipola let you scribble on tables that double up as black boards. Others like Jamjar Diner, Gostana, Road House Bluez, The Little Door and pubs like Boveda, Doolally as well as Khar’s Fellas café are stocking up on board games, to add excitement to the dining out experience. “We want people to engage at a basic level and disconnect from technology and the everyday chaos. People are less likely to text or answer calls in the middle of a round. Games help as a tool to break the ice and set a very positive tone to the party. Pulling out blocks of Jenga when you are under the influence is way more fun and challenging!” justifies Abhishek Goyal, partner, Boveda.
Friends enjoy a game of Fletter at Hoppipola, Lower Parel
The board game buzz
Earlier, playing board games was restricted to a house party or a lazy Sunday afternoon indulgence. Now, gaming championships and communities that host board game nights at city restaurants are a reality. This weekend, drop by a Scrabble Championship at Juhu Gymkhana or watch out for Board Games Bash’s next monthly gaming night on their Facebook page. Amrita Hom Ray, a city-based media professional who’s a regular at board game nights, says, “It helps to play games at a nice place with good food. I enjoy playing at Doolally and Eddies Bistro at Bandra.”
A collection of board games and books at Jamjar Diner
Kumar Jhuremalani, who has been organising the Board Games Bash since 2011, elaborates, “It’s easy to host at restaurants because you don’t have to cook or be the perfect host. There are a few pre-requisites like sufficient lighting, delectable and smartly-priced food, and staff that can handle the noise. We’ve received complaints from staff at certain restaurants who felt that board gaming would be a quiet affair. We haven’t returned to those spots.”
Low cost, high value
Still, most restaurants aren’t complaining. This, because offering board games is a cost-effective way to draw in crowds. “Investment cost is few thousand rupees. We usually keep four to five pieces of each game. Card games, and card version of board games are popular; games with quick results and not many complicated rules, like Uno and Jenga are also a crowd favourite,” reveals Goyal.
Nevil Timbadia, co-owner of Jamjar Diner, that offers Chess, Word building, Pictureka, Dobble and Battleship, among others, says, “Board games help in retaining customers for longer hours. People are so glued into the game; they forget how much time has passed.”
And more play often leads to more orders. “It’s good for weekday business as guests sit longer and tend to order more than usual,” adds Ravish Shetty, partner, Road House Bluez. “Board games are usually followed by coffees and desserts,” seconds Arpana Gvalani, Owner, Gostana.
When it gets dicey
Some board game enthusiasts like 25-year-old television channel executive, Nikita Kacker have better ideas. She carries her set of Monopoly cards when out for dinner. “I love playing board games but often, you have to hunt for the pieces. So, I carry my own set or opt for the Taboo mobile app,” she reasons. Taking care of these games can be a challenge, feels Tanu Narang Moghe, owner, The Little Door, “Sometimes, pieces go missing, the packaging is destroyed or a guest scribbles something on the board. So, the restaurant needs to keep replacing these.”
And in a city with space crunch, large boards can take up entire space on the table, leaving no room for food. Gvalani offers a solution, “Given that we have just four tables, and counter seats, I added Uno and playing cards for counter seating.” Game on!
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>> Sign up for the Bayer National Scrabble Championship 2015 with a minimum of 24 rounds.
From: May 29 to 31, 9 am to 7 pm
At: Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana Club, N South Road Number 12A, Vithal Nagar, Juhu.
Email: mumbaiscrabble@ gmail.com.
>> Participate in Board Games Bash, hosted on a Wednesday every month. Play interesting games like Avalon, Coup, Citadels, Cut The Crap, Shark, Take 6, Anomia, Boggle, Funglish, Apples to Apples, Curses and Quelf among others.
Log on to: www.facebook.com/BoardGamesBash?fref=ts
>> Play Uno, Jenga, Monopoly Deal, Snakes and Ladders and Fletter.
At: Boveda, G04, Morya Landmark One, off New Link Road, Near Infiniti Mall, Andheri (W).
>> Try Checkers, Karo, Six, Chess and Crossword among others.
At: Gostana, Prabhat Kunj, 24th Road, Bandra (W).
>> Enjoy Mikado, Scattergories, Connect 4, Chinese checkers, Rubik’s Cubes as well as retro video games like Mario, Duck Hunt and Contra.
At: Hoppipola outlets at Khar (W), Powai and Lower Parel.
>> Indulge in Word building, Pictureka, Sequence, Housie, Dobble, Battleship, etc.
At: Jamjar Diner, 7A and B, JP Road, Aram Nagar, Versova, Andheri (W).
>> Sip on some healthy juices while enjoying a game of Uno, Pictionary and Monopoly.
At: Fellas Cafe, Ahimsa Marg, 14 A road, Khar (W).
>> Enjoy Sunday Drunch with games like Snakes and Ladder, Pictionary, Monopoly, Taboo, Chess, Jenga and Uno.
At: The Little Door, Plot B31, Shree Siddhivinayak Plaza, off New Link Road, Andheri (W).
>> Board games for kids and adults are part of their Sunday brunch.
At: blueFROG, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
Cost: Rs 2,500 (with alcohol), Rs 2,000 (without alcohol), Rs 1,000 (kids aged two to 10 years)