Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

Connoisseurs of board and table games, craft-brewed beers, and freshly brewed coffee now have a fan central station to convene, converse, compete, and consume in South Charleston.

South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens Jr. and several other well wishers attended a morning ribbon-cutting event Friday, Dec. 18, to open ceremonially open and welcome The Board Room, an emporium of new and classic board games, comics, and more, to the community.

Located at 35 RHL Blvd. South in South Charleston, near Best Buy, The Board Room is a board game café which serves craft beers, soft drinks, and, soon, coffee, with tables set up for customers to play games while they enjoy their beverages of choice.

Josh and Samantha Owens of South Charleston own and operate The Board Room. Prior to last week’s grand opening, the husband-and-wife proprietors had been overseeing renovations to the former Mole Hole site since late September, nearing the realization of a decade-long dream.

“About 10 years ago, I was in the process of talking to the Small Business Association about starting a business like this,” Josh explained. “Then, life happened, I had a son, and things got put on the back burner a little bit.

“I’d always wanted to own my own business themed around gaming,” he said. “Board games were something that my wife and I started doing together. We discovered that there is a hobby board game industry, not with your traditional mainstream games like Monopoly and Sorry. There was a whole world of games. We started getting into different types of games, going to conventions. We’ve made some of our best friends through conventions; in a nonpandemic year, we’d get together to eat dinner and play games. We love to discover different types of games; it’s more about the social interactions than it is about the games themselves.

“The gaming hobby and craft beers have both exploded over the past 10 years,” Josh said. “My friends and I would grab a beer and play games, and I thought it would be a good idea to put them together. It’s an alternative for someone who wants to have a beer but not necessarily go to a bar atmosphere.”

As The Board Room began to take shape toward reality earlier this year, COVID-19 threw a wild card into the game.

“I was signing my paperwork to get my business loan in March,” Josh recounted. “Literally a week later, the national shutdown happened. I was freaking out. I thought, ‘Do I want to scrap this altogether?’” Both the property owners and the bank were able to push it back until things got under control a little bit, and we restarted the process in September.

“Hopefully, now that the first vaccines have been delivered, it won’t be too long until things get back to normal.”

For the time being, The Board Room is providing hand sanitizer at all of the tables, which have been configured to maintain social distancing. The couple purchased an air purifier system for added safety as well. “Hopefully, that will give my customers a little more peace of mind,” Josh said.

Among the dozens of board and table games in The Board Room library for players to choose from are favorites such as Catan, Jenga, Monopoly, and Connect 4 and newer hobby games. Josh said there’s no charge to play the games at The Board Room. “Our hope is that people will come in, grab a beer or a Coke, and enjoy playing games.”

The current on-tap craft beer menu features several brands brewed in West Virginia, including some Big Timber ale varieties from Elkins; Greenbrier Valley Ol’ Ran’l, Devil Anse IPA, and Mothman Black IPA from Maxwellton; and Parkersburg Cell Block 304 from Parkersburg, among others.

“Right now, seven of my 10 beers on tap are made locally,” Josh said. “My plan is to have the majority of beers be local beers.”

Beer is also available in cans at The Board Room, including well-known suds such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, and Miller Lite. A variety of national and international craft beers — such as Stiegl Radler, a fruit beer from Salzburg, Austria, and New Belgium Voodoo Ranger from Colorado and North Carolina breweries — can also be purchased in cans.

Several brands of coffees are in production and should be available in coming weeks, he added.

The Board Room also sells board games, comic books, graphic novels, and sports and other trading cards for casual fans and collectors alike.

“With the comic books, we have a few copies of new releases and a larger selection of comics coming,” Josh said. “We’re also doing something comic book shops typically do, where our customers can be on a pull list. If customers want certain titles, I can have those each month for them. We also have a large selection of graphic novels.”

Hours of operation at The Board Room are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The café’s full beverage menu, along with additional information, can be found online on the new business’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/boardroomwv.