When was the last time you played a brand new board game? Was it Monopoly? Battleship? Scrabble? Time to change all that! There is a whole new world of fun, engaging, and easy to learn games just waiting for you. And, in Memphis, there is no better place to find your next obsession than Board to Beers on Poplar Avenue in Midtown.
Board to Beers is a friendly neighborhood bar that features more than 800 board games that you can pull off the shelf and enjoy. After an affordable fee at the door, you can spend hours trying out new games for the first time or classics from yesteryear. Board to Beers was the vision of the owner and operator, Taylor Herndon. We got the chance to visit Taylor and sit down for a chat.
Gary: Taylor, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Tell us about your business.
Taylor: Board to Beers began as an idea in 2019. We signed the lease in February 2020. Then, COVID. It was very hard, but we have wonderful supporters, and because of them we have been able to stay afloat and even thrive. But, let me backup. I never really knew what track I wanted to take in my life. I was a biology major. I had worked for a number of nonprofits and did a bunch of event planning. I was kind of bouncing around. Then, in mid-2019, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died very soon after. We were all shocked. For me, the grief became the push that I needed to help me clarify my goals and start making concrete steps toward them.
So, I thought about what I love to do. I love visiting great bars, supporting local businesses, hosting events, and my husband and I had a huge collection of 200+ board games. (Well, we thought it was huge at the time, but now we have over 750 games… and we are getting more all the time!) That’s how I came up with Board to Beers.
Gary: So, you decided to open this place because you needed more storage for all these games!
Taylor: I am not sure it helped! We are still looking for space for all these games! We wanted a place where everyone would feel welcome to come, hang out, and play games without having to shout over loud music or a rowdy bar. We wanted a place where people can unplug from the digital and just enjoy each other’s company. Now, we have that. We have wonderful regulars and a great stream of new players that all enjoy local beers and playing board games. We love it!
Gary: When you have folks come in that are new to the hobby, what game do you reach for to help them have a good time?
Taylor: We do get a lot of new players in and we strive to make them feel comfortable, no matter their experience level. So, we talk about what kind of games they like. Sometimes all they have ever played are classics like Monopoly or Uno. That’s when we reach for our beginner level strategy games. The most popular being King of Tokyo. We have the winners of the games sign the underside of the lid and King of Tokyo is already on its third column.
Gary: What does Board to Beers have in the pipeline?
Taylor: We have a few cards up our sleeves. We are working on building a Memphis-wide board game league. We are really excited about that. I really love bringing people together. So, we are developing a bunch of fun events here at Board to Beers and all around the community.
Gary: What can we look forward to in the next few months?
Taylor: On February 12, we hosted Fancy Gaming. We dimmed the lights and invited everyone to dress up and come out to play their favorite games. I know. Romance and board gaming seem like an odd pairing, but it really is a lot of fun. For our April event, we planned a series of events running up to Earth Day (April 22). We had all kinds of nature themed games like Blossoms, Photosynthesis, Arboretum and loads more. It was a lot of fun.
Gary: That does sound like fun. If I am a single person coming in for the first time, is there a way for me to get into a game?
Taylor: We adopt all players! Since day one we have had people that have just moved here from all over that didn’t know anyone that have found their way to us. When they come in, we invite them to play with one of our hosts and eventually they find a group of their own. It has been one of my favorite parts of opening this business. I love to see people making new connections. It makes my heart happy.
Gary: Well, I can’t think of a better reason to be in any business.
For more about Board to Beers, visit www.Board2Beers.com, find them on Facebook and Instagram or drop in at 2867 Poplar Ave. in Memphis (at Humes between Lost Pizza and Lenny’s).
All images courtesy of Kaitlyn Becker.
Gary Blevins is the President of Board Game Nation, a community of people that love all types of tabletop games. Board Game Nation shares this love by creating and promoting engaging content surrounding great games while featuring our favorite local game stores.