A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: TableTop Underground

Hello Gamers, and Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a good holiday season celebrating whatever you and your family celebrate. As you are probably aware, the Traverse City Board Gamers have moved our weekly board game night to a new location, Tabletop Underground. We’ve had a lot of local press recently because the idea of a dedicated space just to play board games is pretty new to Traverse City. When our group first formed, it was much smaller. So, playing at a local bar wasn’t a problem. We’d only take up one or two tables. But as we grew, we started to take up more space (which was fine because we all made sure to purchase items from the bar or brewery where we were playing), but other factors started to come in to play. These factors were important aspects of playing board games like lighting and volume of the people around you. We moved from one place to another. For a significant amount of time, we met weekly at Earthen Ales. They had nice lighting, and it wasn’t too loud. And if we dropped a piece on the floor and missed it, they’d sweep it up and return it to one of us the next time we were there. But once again, we were starting to outgrow our pond. We often felt guilty if we were playing a game that ran long and we kept Jamie and Andrew (owners of Earthen Ales) there after closing. It was time to look for a new place.

Kyle and Ramon have long had a dream of opening a board game café. A dedicated space for board gamers. A spot opened up downtown this fall, and the guys jumped at the chance to rent it and create a space for us. They spent many hours down in the space getting it ready for board games and board gamers. The official grand opening of Tabletop Underground was December 1, 2019. So, we’ve actively been using the space for just over a month, and I have some thoughts.

It is nice to have a place that is our own. I say “our own” meaning as a home base for the Traverse City Board Gamers even though the space is open to the public. TTU will be the spot for our tournaments and any other events that we chose to hold there. We just hosted our annual all day New Year’s Day board game event there.

We have a lot more choices every Sunday for the games that we want to play. This can actually be a pro and a con. Previously, we were limited to what Kyle brought with him every week. While we had a limited selection, we didn’t have to deal with the overwhelming analysis paralysis that can come with making a selection from some 300+ games. On the other hand, if you really want to try out a game, then the chances are high that it will be there and you’ll be able to play it.

We don’t feel guilty about taking up tables and stealing spots from paying customers. I’d always feel a little guilty when I got to the brewery early, and I was taking up a giant table by myself while watching other groups of 4 or 5 holding beers and looking for a place to sit down. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. All the tables in the space are meant for playing board games. And if a game runs long, well, we aren’t keeping another business owner after close.

I can bring my kids along if I wanted to. I know that they aren’t going to be able to get in to too much trouble in the space. There are some kid’s games on the shelves. Animal Upon Animal is available, and that is one of my kidlet’s favorite games.

It’s nice to have a dedicated space to play board games and to invite the public in to check it out. Tabletop Underground is open Fridays 5pm-10pm, Saturdays 2pm-10pm, and Sundays 2pm-10pm. There is a $7 entrance fee, but that allows you to come and go as you please and play all day. Come check us out. I’m there most Sundays. Come and say hi.

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