Kathleen Miller wants to give the residents of Hudson a new place to play. After spending a number of years in the food and wine industry, Miller decided it was time to start her own business. “I had an idea for a tapas bar or a wine bar but I got to point where I was uncomfortable with how central alcohol is to our social lives. I wanted something a little friendlier that gets everyone to turn out and come together.”
Her replacement for alcohol? board games–the entertainment she grew up with in rural New Hampshire. Board game cafes have actually become fairly popular in major cities across the United States.
These cafes generally charge for either a daily, weekly or monthly pass for customers to access their large catalog of board games. Miller will be serving a wide array of comfort foods–including brownies, milkshakes, frappes and sandwiches and serving coffee and tea.
Miller is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to fund the purchase of equipment, games, working capital and to pay for construction. As of Thursday, afternoon she was nearly halfway to her goal with $4,339 pledged. The campaign ends on Friday, March 17. She plans to officially open House Rules at her location at 757 Columbia Street in April.
Kickstarter presented Miller with a solution to funding issues, but also as a way to garner community involvement. “ I need a little more funding than I was able to provide myself,” says Miller. “There was always the traditional route but banks don’t like loaning to restaurants and crowd funding provided opportunities It took me out of banking and gives the community a chance to step up and say, ‘we really like what you’re doing.’”
Many gaming shops and cafes cater to gamers focused on certain aspects of the growing industry–classic games like Settlers of Catan test players’ math skills and politics; others focus heavily on teamwork, strategy and language skills. Miller said she isn’t planning to cater specifically to any one niche.
“I’m expecting people to come in say ‘I know Monopoly and Scrabble, what else is there?’ Anyone can enjoy board games–it isn’t restricted to people who like math. For the most part these are not math-based board games. Some of them are, some of them are story telling and some of them are just basic card games that reference pop culture like Monty Python or other familiar franchises.”
Miller says she has about 70 games and hopes to get to about 250 this year.
“I don’t have some of my favorite games in my collection right now, but we’re going to keep growing the collection,” says Miller.
This Saturday, Miller is hosting a panel discussion from 1-3 PM, titled “Representation Matters: Gender Identity and Sexuality in Comic Books and Comics-Related Media”. Panelists include her friend Steve Orlando–a prominent writer for DC comics and activist Eòghann Renfroe who co-authored New York’s guidelines for schools on transgender and gender nonconforming students. She’ll also hold an open house on March 4.