One of our new favourite hang-outs, Chance & Counters is Bristol’s first dedicated board gaming café, tucked at the bottom of Christmas Steps. It’s a purpose-built space that board gamers of all ages and abilities can enjoy, from casual players to seasoned strategists – brought to you by Steve, Richard and Luke. Serving everything from top-drawer local beers to speciality coffee, quick lunches and evening bites – there’s something for everyone.
We had a chat with the owner. Here is what we found out…
What’s the story of how Chance & Counters came about?
As many stories do, it all started as tipsy pub chat a few years ago. After realising how much money he was spending on board games, Luke wanted to create a space where people could come and try out different games, without risking £40-50 every time. Steve moved in with Luke in Birmingham while studying towards a Masters, and together we started plotting whether it might actually be feasible. After a few months of planning, the pair came across a lovely chap called Richard on Reddit who was finishing up an MBA in China and considering doing something similar. Richard came on board as the third founder, then all three of us moved to Bristol and began planning in earnest.
What’s the best thing about doing what you do?
That’s easy: spending all day doing something we’re each massively passionate about. All three of us get a huge kick out of introducing people to the world of board games that exists beyond Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk. It’s immensely satisfying to watch people having the same awakening we all had – competing, cooperating and conspiring together, without a phone or laptop in sight.
What do you love most about Bristol?
The people are what really makes Bristol; the sense of community is unbeatable. A case in point – we had a customer who came in without a buddy to play with. Within five minutes another guest asked whether he wanted to join him for a two-player game, and within half an hour a different group of two invited them to merge into a four. Together they rattled through a bunch of games, had a blast and left as friends. That’s exactly the kind of environment we dreamed of, and it’s in no small part down to the atmosphere in Bristol.
There’s also an eagerness to experiment – in a multicultural sense but also more generally – which contributes hugely to the amazing indie food scene here. We knew food couldn’t be an afterthought at Chance & Counters because the competition is fierce and expectations are pretty high. That’s why we’ve sourced fantastic produce as locally as possible, to create fresh, simple food that we’re really proud of.
What are your favourite independent places in Bristol?
Steve: Eat a Pitta. Unbelievable falafel, perilously close to my flat.
Luke: Farrow’s Fish & Chips. I’m a coeliac but thankfully places like this exist.
Richard: Swoon Gelato. The most intense and authentic gelato you’ll find, freshly made right in front of you.
What on your menu would you recommend to a first-time customer?
If you’re a fan of the fromage, you really can’t go wrong with one of our cheese platters. We’re spoilt for choice in the South West and we’re super proud of our selection: Westcombe cheddar, Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella, Bath blue, Rosary goat’s cheese and Cornish Yarg. All served with olives, crackers and chutney (naturally), and all washed down with a pint of craft ale or speciality coffee. The only cheese we get from abroad is our brie; sometimes you’ve just got to accept our francophone friends do it best.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re ambitious and we’re bullish on the future of board games. It’s still early days for us in Bristol, but if things keep going as they are we hope to expand to a second city within 18 months. We’re passionate about bringing board games to more people and opening up more cafes mean more people can play!
And that’s all from us, folks! If you’d like to check out their social media pages, the links are below:
Facebook: /chanceandcounters/ Twitter: /chanceandcounters/