BYOB board game cafe, coming soon to Easton, will feature over 200 board games

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Watch out, players! Society players, that is. A new place to eat, drink and have fun competing with friends and family is coming soon to downtown Easton.

Punch Out Games, a board game cafe with more than 200 playable board games, is set to open in September at 161 Northampton St., next to the new Cellar Beast Winehouse, co-founder Mik Matiss said.

The BYOB cafe, which will serve snacks like macaroni and cheese, hummus plates and fries and salsa, will feature classic games like Chess, Checkers and Clue as well as more modern favorites like Concordia, Cranium and Cards Against Humanity.

Matiss operates the business with his friend and neighbor, Barbara Vasconez.

The residents of Easton have been a fan of board games since childhood and frequented other board game cafes in Philadelphia and New York before deciding to start their own business in the Lehigh Valley.

Since late 2021, they’ve been running Punch Out Games as a pop-up operation, bringing dozens of board games to local festivals, restaurants, and other gaming venues.

“We’re going to be the arcade for board games, and we’re excited to make the space our own,” Matiss said. “We want our theme to almost look like Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Having fun is the number one priority.

“It’s basically like an arcade but instead of video games, it’s board games,” echoed Vasconez. “We charge an entry fee of $5 for two hours, then $5 for each additional hour thereafter. Admission includes access to our full collection of board games.

Matiss and Vasconez, who met through a mutual friend at the Mahoning Drive-In in 2020, were inspired to open Punch Out Games after Matiss left his long career in the events industry in november.

“He left the company he worked for about 12 years to pursue something he loves,” Vasconez said. “I was trying to steer him in that direction when we both realized we wanted to be our own bosses. ‘What do we love?’ we wondered. ‘Our hobby of playing board games!’”

“I told him about the concept of a board game café,” Matiss recalls. “She immediately said, ‘We can do this!’ And we just dove from there.

The duo have amassed an impressive catalog of games, including popular picks like Dominoes, Parcheesi, Risk, Scattergories, Uno, Stratego, and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

There are even board games based on popular movies like Jaws and The Shining.

“My personal favorites are strategic games like ROOT, Wingspan and Coup,” Vasconez said.

“We have a lot of mid-level games – I call them gateway games – like Catan,” Matiss said. “So in this case, it might be a situation where if you like Monopoly, you might like this game.”

Matiss and Vasconez are renovating the Northampton Street space, which previously housed Phenom Thai Cuisine, with new lighting, murals, kitchen amenities and more.

The cafe will provide seating for over 50 guests in a mix of lounge furniture and dining chairs surrounding large game tables.

There will also be a retail area, where individuals can purchase games they like to play, and a courtyard, where larger games such as cornhole and giant Connect 4 and Jenga can be played.

In addition to small plates, non-alcoholic beverages such as sodas and tea will be served. Guests may bring their own alcoholic beverages to enjoy.

“We are creating a space that will delight game enthusiasts and those curious about board games,” Vasconez said. “We are also adding something unique to Easton. The bars and restaurants here are phenomenal, but there are plenty of times when you want to go out on a first date or hang out with your best friends who are from out of town and do something fun that doesn’t require not sitting in a bar.

“People may not be able to afford all of these games, but they can afford $5 to try out a game they’re considering buying,” Matiss added. “They can go out, eat and meet friends. It’s also a great way to meet new people.

The cafe will be open most days of the week, likely closed Mondays and Tuesdays, from late morning until 10 p.m. or later, Matiss said.

It will join other downtown Easton entertainment options including the State Theatre, Crayola Experience, Skeggy’s Ax House, One Center Square Music and Arts Venue and The Game Gallery, a video game store and of arcade.

To stay up to date on Punch Out Games events, follow the professional social media pages, facebook.com/PunchOutGames and instagram.com/punchoutgames.

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