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A new cafe with a competitive twist in west Lawrence; an international airport 20 minutes from downtown Lawrence?
Whether you are a dungeon master or just a master of eating cookies, a west Lawrence business has made changes aimed at you.
Perhaps you remember in 2015 I wrote of a new business called The Rolling Gnome, a store that sells board games, card games and other types of nonelectronic entertainment. Well, the store at 3727 W. Sixth St. has made a change. It is now The Rolling Gnome Game Cafe.
The store has begun serving a variety of coffees by PT’s Roasting Company; plus, it has a pastry case with a heavy dose of cookies. The store still sells games, but it is trying to build business by being a place where people come and play games for free and partake in coffeehouse food and drink.
Currently, the longtime game Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular game that people come to the store to play on a regular basis. There is a regular “Adventure League” for D&D players on Sunday, which generally fills all eight tables of the store.
Holly Tompkins, a co-owner of the store, said the concept of game cafes are catching on in other cities, and she thinks it is something Lawrence will take to as well.
“It is a way for people to unplug from computers and cellphones and have some face-to-face interaction,” Tompkins said.
Meeting at a public place like a game cafe is more comfortable, often times, than going to someone’s house to play. You don’t have to worry about tidying up the house, baking the cookies, or perhaps your home is like mine and the Merlin the Wizard hat frequently gets tangled in the ceiling fan.
“We’ll be the host,” Tompkins said. “You just bring yourself.”
The store has a library of about 250 games that you can play for free at the store. Included in the list are strategy games, thematic games, party games, family games, role-playing games, miniature games, card games and something called Eurogames, which I’m guessing involves somebody playing a U.S. president while the rest of the people play Europeans who are alternately confused and quivering.
Tompkins said crowds of players have been good, with ages ranging from 11 to 60 and over. She said most people know each other before they come to the store, but she’s seeing more people who meet online and use the store as a place to come together and play.
Tompkins said the cafe hopes to become a gathering place for game players even when they aren’t playing a game. The cafe is hosting live entertainment a few nights per month. Right now the store is focusing on comedy routines from the Lawrence Improv Guild, but Tompkins said it hopes to expand into some live music.
For those of you who actually want to buy games to play at home, the store still does that business too. Tompkins said the store also is still offering a rental service where people can pay 10 percent of the price of a game and take it home for 24 hours. If they then want to buy the game, the 10 percent is applied to the price of the game.
In other news and notes from around town:
• One of the games some Lawrence residents have been known to play is KCI Procrastination. You know how it goes: See how long you can wait before you have to leave for the airport to catch your flight.
Just think how different that game would be if the Kansas City airport were only 20 minutes away from Lawrence. That day probably will never come, but it is worth noting that it is actually getting some discussion in Kansas City.
We’ve had an Associated Press article that talks about how Gov. Sam Brownback has people looking at the feasibility of a Johnson County airport, if Kansas City voters can’t agree on how to improve KCI. But that article didn’t have a lot of details. So a recent column by Steve Rose of The Kansas City Star caught my attention. Rose, a longtime journalist with deep contacts with Johnson County leaders, had a few more details about where a Johnson County airport could be located. One of the two prime spots is the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.
For those of you unaware, that is just on the other side of the Johnson County/Douglas County line. It is thousands of acres, but the main entrance to the property is basically off Kansas Highway 10 at De Soto. You can get to De Soto from downtown Lawrence in about 20 minutes.
The other location mentioned in Rose’s column is the New Century Airfield near Gardner. That would perhaps be a little closer to Lawrence than KCI is, but not by a lot.
Now, I don’t profess to understand Kansas City politics (if you do, I think that entitles you to really strong medication), but I think the talk of a Johnson County airport is being used as a hedge against Kansas City voters not approving multimillion-dollar improvements to KCI.
Even the supporters of a Johnson County airport are acknowledging it is a long shot, but it is a long shot with stakes so high that it merits attention. Rose’s column said there are 60,000 jobs connected to the airport in one way or another. It could be a game changer for economic development in Douglas County. Being 20 minutes from an international airport — rather than the nearly 50 minutes today — could open up new types of economic development opportunities. It could especially affect the Douglas County community of Eudora. Eudora’s industrial park is less than a 10 minute drive from De Soto.
Of course, there could be negative impacts too. Airports are noisy by nature and attract a lot of traffic. I’m sure those would be concerns.
Again, it likely will be a moot point, but until that is certain, it is an issue Douglas County leaders should watch.