New Exchange District restaurant owner Olaf Pyttlik would hate to see bored customers.

Instead, he wants customers at the boards. That’s why he’s opening Across the Board game café, a licensed eatery and games room Pyttlik hopes will fuel an emerging trend in the city.

“The market is growing and we just thought it was time for Winnipeg to have this kind of thing,” said Pyttlik.

Across the Board opens 5 p.m. on Thursday at 93 Albert Street, the former home of The Fyxx and Urban Forest.

Neither Pyttlik—a longtime games enthusiast who began collecting games as a youngster in Germany—nor his business partner Clinton Skibitzky have restaurant experience but they do own a production company.

“This is basically a crime of passion,” Pyttlik said. 

For $5 per person per visit, guests will have unlimited time to play any of the estimated 700 games in the café’s library.

Across the Board

Across the Board co-owner Olaf Pyttlik stands in front of his library of board games. The games enthusiast began amassing his collection as a youngster in his native Germany. (Robin Summerfield)

Old school family games like Monopoly, Sorry and Yahtzee are stocked alongside modern games like Settlers of Catan, A Few Acres of Snow and Cards Against Humanity.

The duo doesn't have the monopoly on the games room and restaurant mash-up in Winnipeg. 

In early April, games café Meeples opened inside Kay’s Deli a few blocks away. There, Meeples’ gamers take over the deli after it closes.

Winnipeg is slow to get on the board games café trend. Toronto is already home to about a dozen games cafés including Snakes and Lagers and Roll Play Café

Meanwhile, Pyttlik is ready to roll the dice on his new business. The 45-year-old and his wife have been hosting games nights at their Wolseley-area home for years, attracting 30 to 40 players for their twice monthly party. 

“We were shocked at the number of people," he admitted. "There was a real appetite to get away from the digital experience.”