Not since the opening of Sam James have we seen so many re-tweets and wall postings about a new café. But it’s not the coffee that’s generating excitement for Snakes and Lattes, it’s the concept: customers can choose from more than 1,000 board games and play all day for just $5.
Parisian couple and first-time business owners Ben Castanie and Aurelia Peynet got the idea for a board games café from memories of toy libraries in Paris—places where kids can rent playthings—and from a visit to a hobby shop in Chicago two years ago. After amassing 1,500 board games from vintage shops, yard sales and toy stores, the pair moved into a defunct coffee shop at Palmerston and Bloor West.
True to the owners’ heritage, the selection focuses more on European board games that are short, family-friendly and don’t eliminate players. In other words, there’s less Monopoly and more Mastermind. Settlers of Catan, which has been slowly gaining popularity in North America, is here, as is the ultra-rare Fireball Island (recently seen on eBay for $200). Helpful staffers are on hand to offer tutorials and recommendations.
“There’s going to be wear and tear and pieces lost. I sound naive, but I want people to play and have fun, which is why board games are created in the first place,” says Castanie. “Our mission is to mix gamers and non-gamers and get them to socialize and meet new people under one roof. There’s a social aspect. It’s not like Facebook, where you connect with people by staring at a computer screen. Here you have to look at people in the eye and talk to them. It’s a great way to break the ice without having to talk about the weather.”
Snakes and Lattes, 600 Bloor St. W. (at Palmerston Ave.), 416-500-2911, snakesandlattes.com.