Secret Hitler, Exploding Kittens and Obama Llama are just a few of over 700 board games located at Pieces Board Game Bar and Cafe. Pieces is St. Louis’s first and only restaurant where customers can play board games while eating and drinking.
By Elizabeth Helm
(St. Louis) Before opening Pieces Board Game Bar and Cafe, Laura Lettau and her husband/co-owner James Lettau owned about 200 board games.
“All the board games were in our unusable kitchen,” Laura Lettau said. “On our stove, in our oven and on our countertops.”
The Lettaus and co-owner Ameet Rawal partnered with Miniature Market, an online gaming superstore headquartered in St. Louis, in order to increase their board game library to 700. Pieces receives about thirty-five new board games a month from Miniature Market. They also lose about ten board games due to damaged items, lost pieces, and “beer spills.”
“Board games are coming in. Board games are coming out,” Lettau said. “We also buy our games from local game shops just to support the local community.”
Upon walking into Pieces, customers are first met with the bar and booth tables on the left.
A few steps further, the dining area and board game library are revealed. One bookshelf contains majority of the library and separates the bar from the dining area. Another smaller bookshelf sits in front of the kitchen area.
Each of the custom-made tables in the dining area have a metal cardholder around the outside. That way, customers can eat their food while playing a game at the same time.
Many of the employees act as “game navigators.” They help guide customers’ game selections as well as teach them game rules and give suggestions.
Joseph, the head bartender, also acts as a game navigator. Joseph was originally hired as a host. His job included explaining the board game library and library fee.
“Hosting is one of the most important positions in our restaurant because they have to explain everything,”Lettau said.
The library is organized by difficulty level and game type. Some examples of game types are card games and party games. In order to use the library, there is a five-dollar library fee. One dollar is taken off the library fee for each food or drink item purchased.
“We say this to every table that walks through the door,” Joseph said. “Every single one.”
The daily responsibilities of working at Pieces don’t keep its employees from enjoying board games themselves.
“My favorite board game is Survive! Escape From Atlantis,” Lettau said. “I’ve been playing that since I was a kid.”
Survive! Escape From Atlantis requires players to rescue the population of the sinking island of Atlantis.
“I love Splendor,” Joseph said. “It’s a just a really easy, fun, resource management game.”
In Splendor, players are Renaissance merchants trying to buy gems.
Pieces is located on 1535 S 8th St. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 PM until 11:30 PM, Friday from 4:00 PM until 1:00 AM, Saturday from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM, and Sunday from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM. Brunch is also served on Saturdays and Sundays.
“It’s just the best job in the world,” Lettau said.