A Game Knight offers guests an alternative to the typical bar scene. The board game parlor and tavern promotes social interaction and conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. CONTRIBUTED

A new game-centric Hamilton spot is trying to offer ‘an alternative to the normal bar scene’

Located in Hamilton’s historic German Village, A Game Knight offers guests a fun alternative to the typical bar scene.

The 5,000-square-foot establishment stocks close to 500 games, from classic family games to party games and much more. The games are free to play, but while guests are playing, they can choose to purchase food and drink. A Game Knight opened its doors on Nov. 30.

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Individuals and groups are enjoying the opportunity to meet new people, relax and play games such as Battleship, Mouse Trap, Ticket to Ride, Othello and UNO, to name a few. Popular menu items include soups, deli sandwiches like the Holy Ham Grenades (three ham and cheese sliders on a honey butter bun), flatbread pizzas, desserts, appetizers/snacks, along with 26 specialty cocktails, 12 specialty Martinis, wines, 20 craft beers on tap, two craft sodas and a coffee and tea bar from Oakley Artisan Roasters.

We spoke with Manager Bryan Brunner, who filled us in on why there’s such a buzz in the community about one of Hamilton’s newest businesses. He also told us they will soon open an upstairs “Victorian Steampunk” themed party room early in 2019, which can be rented for private parties and special events.

Q: For those who haven’t stopped in yet, can you tell us about A Game Knight?

A: The concept has evolved. Most of it is still holding true, but we’ve changed some things based on customer feedback. Our customers and guests have helped to shape us a little bit differently than what the original plan was. The original plan was to provide a place as an alternative to the normal bar scene. So, we don’t have music. We don’t have sports on television. We have a non-distracting environment. People can have conversations, they can play a game without a lot of noise going on, and have some food and drink, and enjoy themselves in a calm atmosphere. The idea was to provide an atmosphere where people will sit and interact with each other, rather than being on their cell phones, or being engrossed in whatever is on the sports screen, but more importantly, not have to scream at each other to have a conversation, because you can’t hear. We’re not quiet like a library, but we’re not loud like a typical bar. Board games bring people together. Some of the older, classic games have a nostalgic value. A customer might say, “Hey, I used to play this with my mom and dad when I was a kid.” And, the younger generation might enjoy strategy-type games. We have close to 500 games now, and we range everywhere from the classic, family games, all the way up to war games and large-format games.

Q: Have there been any surprises?

A: We never intended to be a restaurant, but we have turned into a restaurant. Originally, the food was just going to be some snacks that people would eat while they’re playing the games. (It was going to be a counter service instead of a server-based system where customers sit down and are brought a menu.) Now, people come to eat dinner, and then, they play a game. We’ve been expanding our menu, slowly, over the past couple of weeks and bringing more items in. We’ve also been investigating vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, because we didn’t really plan for that, but again, we listened to what our customers were saying, and they told us they wanted food. So, we’ve worked on our menu to bring in more food items.

Q: How are the games organized?

A: There’s a library along one wall that has all of the games. Right now, we are categorizing all of the games by what type they are. Whether it’s a social game or a strategy game. We just came up with the categories, because we received a recommendation from a customer on how to reorganize the games. They were organized alphabetically, and sometimes, it was hard to find what they were looking for. So, we’re grouping them into five different categories, and they have a color-coded sticker that tells them what category they belong to and what the maximum number of players are. … We have volunteer game sommeliers, and they will help guests pick a game, based on what they like to play, and they’ll sit down with them, and help them get started with the game.

Q: How has the community responded?

A: It’s been great. We’ve got a lot of excellent reviews, and a lot of people are happy. I greet everybody when they come in, and I see them out when they leave. Much of the time, they say they have a great time, they’ll be back, and bring their friends. The response has been really good. We’re a little slower on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we’re getting ready to start some events that happen on those nights. We’re looking at Monday Night Magic (Magic The Gathering card game) Tuesday Night Partner/Team Pitch Tournament and Wednesday Night Team Nerd Trivia. We’re still working on those, but those are on our ‘coming soon’ board.

Q: Why would you encourage guests to check it out?

A: It’s hard to describe. People say this to me all the time when they come in, “I don’t know what it is, but this place is cool.” They love the concept and the idea. Once they sit down and play a game with their friends, they shake their heads, and say, “Yeah, we get it, it’s great.”

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