New pub featuring 1,000 board games, plus mead, plans to open in downtown Lawrence

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Trader's Cache plans to open an RPG — restaurant, pub and games — concept in the former La Parrilla space at 724 Massachusetts St. this fall. The pub will have a library of about 1,000 board games that patrons can play.

I no longer drink beer when I play Monopoly. I’ve hurt myself too many times falling off the Boardwalk. But booze and board games, plus some food, is precisely the type of activity that will be encouraged at a restaurant and pub in the works for downtown Lawrence.

A Lawrence duo has reached a deal to open Trader’s Cache at 724 Massachusetts St., in the spot that used to house the Latin American restaurant La Parrilla. The business will feature a library of 1,000 board games. Patrons will pay a $5 cover charge to use the board games while they gather for drinks and food with fellow board game players.

The duo refers to the concept as an RPG — an acronym normally associated with roleplaying games but in this case standing for restaurant, pub and games. They say the idea is becoming popular on the coasts, but it hasn’t fully made its way to Lawrence yet. But Lawrence friends Nate Morsches and Matt Pool think the idea will work well in Lawrence because college students, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, are getting interested in board games again.

“There is kind of a mass rejection of the online relationships and online community,” Pool said. “They are looking for more face-to-face interactions. We saw a lot of these type of places popping up on the coasts. We saw a growing trend of wanting to get back to real community and real face-to-face communication.”

Just for good measure, the business plans to tap into another trend: mead. The bar will serve mead — an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water often associated with medieval times — on tap. The restaurant is working with Black Labs Craft Meadery out of Olathe to sell the product, Morsches said. Black Labs sells about five different types of mead, according to its website, ranging from sweet dessert style and raspberry infused meads to stouter concoctions aged in bourbon barrels and even one with basil and habanero peppers.

“Mead is really going through this massive growth period at the same time board games are,” Pool said. “It is its own booming industry right now.”

Mead might even put you into the mood for some the medieval-themed games, which are a popular genre in the board game industry currently. Trader’s Cache will have those type of games, but also will have traditional board games, plus card games. There will be plenty of unusual ones too.

Morsches said one of his favorite games currently is Wingspan, which is built around the hobby of birdwatching. Pool said one of his favorites is Photosynthesis, which “works a lot like Stratego and chess, except growing trees is involved.”

Pool, Morsches and their business partners recently signed the lease for the 724 Massachusetts spot, and renovation work should begin in the coming weeks. They hope to open this fall.

As for the food, they don’t have a lot of details to share yet, but said they are working with a chef who would develop a menu of about a dozen items.

“We plan on being fancier than pub grub, but not extremely fancy,” Pool said. “Mostly American with certain twists.”

Morsches and Pool — who have been friends for the last dozen years while one worked in the IT field and the other in the health care industry — have been testing out the concept around Lawrence. In February, they hosted a board game event at Abe & Jake’s that drew about 350 people. Morsches said the popularity is a testament to the power of board games and their ability to bring people together. He’s a believer so much so, that he recommends the activity for a first date.

“You are going out on a date or meeting someone for the first time, it can be awkward,” he said. “But when you are playing a game, you automatically are engaging and in a social relationship when you are playing a game with them.”

Plus, if you play Monopoly, you later can boast about spending thousands of dollars on your first date.


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