Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eat Food and Play Card Games

A few enterprising restaurants and cafes in the city have started keeping board games, giving youngsters a new reason to visit

In the world of restaurant chains and quick service, the biggest loser seems to be the corner coffee shop that serves sandwiches, or the once-popular ice-cream parlour down the road. With their ambience – both decor and music – and the speed with which they serve customers, the proponents of fast food are attracting a large number of youngsters, who constitute a major chunk of the 'eating-out' market.

However, the small cafes and restaurants, unwitting victims of the merciless rise of food chains, have never given up, and lately seem to have stumbled on to the jackpot – a sure-safe way of attracting youngsters: keeping games in the establishment.

The owner and managers of these establishments realised early that what their costumers really wanted was the chance to spend time with their loved ones, be it family or friends. Imrun Sethi, owner of Terttulia, says, “The whole idea behind having board games or card games is to provide the customers with a relaxed atmosphere so that they can actually come and spend time here with their family or friends, rather than just come, eat and leave.”  

My Goodness at Wanowrie started the trend of coffee and games in the area. This little cafe, with a menu of milkshakes, sandwiches and coffees, is packed with youngsters at any time of the day. Mariyam Irani, who stays in the locality, quips, “My friends and I come here almost every other day, sometimes in the afternoon after college or then in the evening to catch up. We sip on a coffee and chill here for hours playing Uno and scrabble. In fact, I liked this concept so much that I even bought a pack of cards to carry with me everywhere. How long can you gossip and chat? Playing a game is always more entertaining.”

Mehul Khanna, a student at Wadia College agrees with her. A regular at Brew House at NIBM, another cafe that's choc-a-bloc with youngsters sipping on drinks and playing board games, he says, “Earlier, my friends and I would go to pool parlours, but this is a good break from that. It's different and the girls in our group particularly like playing games. It's a fun way to pass our time.”

Samir Kakkar, the owner of My Goodness, started his cafe in March 2009. “We had games right from the beginning. When coffee bars first came to Pune, they were more of a 'couple's haunt'. Slowly, as the culture caught on, youngsters made a beeline for them. So, when I decided to start My Goodness, I wanted to give these youngsters something constructive to do while they were chilling out. We have games like Uno, Scrabble, Pictionary, Ludo and Snakes & Ladders. We also have books for avid readers.”

Rajesh Mishra, of the Juice Lounge at Dhole Patil Road, also keeps a lot of board games for his young customers. He says, "These games have become really popular with customers."

The board and card games have caught on with people of all ages. Kakkar adds, “We get either college-going crowd or people in their 60s and 70s, who like to have some fun playing Ludo and Snakes & Ladders.”  

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