Matt and Laura Powers acting up while renovating their new space for Meeples Mug House.
by Dave Warner
Matt and Laura Powers are at it again, this time opening up a new business on Main Street in the old Happy Waffle location.
Meeples Mug House is going to be a board game cafe. According to Matt “Our main goal is to get people to come socialize, play board games, have a cup of coffee and just hang out.”
In this day and age of everything digital, their goal is to get people to reconnect with civilization and just the normal social interactions that we all used to have before the advent of social media, texting and the like. Games will be available for children and adults.
“It’s a little retro,” says Matt.
The shop is not only going to have coffee, but a light fare menu of sandwiches, soups & salads and at some point in time, a tavern license to sell beer and wine.
When Matt and Laura were first dating they considered opening up their own cafe. “We looked at some properties, but it never really materialized,” says Matt.
Over the past few years though, Matt has gotten more involved in the gaming world and it really energized the couple, giving them the inspiration to start this new venture.
Matt said “Games are great fun, so let’s really get back at it. This (idea) has been brewing and percolating for this past year. When this space became available, we just leaped at the chance.”
Laura said “We’re also hoping to do theme nights and different special events. Whether it be introducing people to a certain game that they’re not familiar with, or live music, we’re really not sure. The opportunities are open at this point.”
LiFT (Little Falls) Theatre may also have some performances at the location, which seems like a natural since they are both so invested in that organization. However, for right now, the couple is really focused on just getting the space ready and the doors open.
As it stands, they are planning to have Meeples Mug House open four days a week – Thursday through Sunday. Evenings on Thursday and Friday, and late afternoon until the evening on Saturday and Sunday.
“The way that board game cafes typically structure themselves is that folks can come in if they have zero intention of playing games and buy a coffee, have a drink, a snack, whatever it is and just go about their day. They can eat in, take it to go, whatever they want to do,” says Laura.
“Then there are people who want to come in, play games and not buy any product. There is the third audience, that wants to play games and purchase products,” she said.
Right now, the couple has about 60 games available and they are going to make the pricing flexible. It’s still not set in stone, but “people could come in and say pay two bucks and and have unlimited access to play whatever they want. They could buy a cup of coffee, a sandwich, or whatever,” says Laura.
“Conversely, if they’re not coffee drinkers or not hungry, they could come in and play with their friends for four bucks,” she said.
It is meant to be a very affordable, family friendly environment. “Being part of Think Local has taught me the importance of having affordable entertainment in Little Falls. We do a lot of free festivals or low cost events and that has kind of trickled into our strategy. We want to make sure it’s open to everyone and a place for anyone,” Laura stated.
The couple also plans to offer memberships and special perks for those who sign up for them. “We’re trying to ‘gamify’ the experience as well. One of our items is tentatively called ‘random chance cheese’ which is a grilled cheese sandwich, but instead of picking what you want, you roll three dice where each one signifies a different topping,” says Matt.
They have lots of other ideas for members. “Member nights, certain nights for a specific game, and we have some other contacts that might really help us out in the future with some pretty cool ideas,” Matt said.
The Powers are going to have to reach beyond Little Falls to make the business a success, and they’re already seeing evidence of growing support for their concept on social media. “They’re talking about Meeples, wanting to come in, and wondering when we’ll be open. This is perfect because this is what we envisioned. This may become the place where people who want to do something on a Friday night, plan to be here with their friends and family,” says Laura.
They also think it’s a concept where people will piggyback onto other events. Going to Valley Cinema to see a movie, then coming to play a board game, or playing some games and then going to eat out at the Copper Moose.
The couple also plans to expand their hours during the many events that are held in Little Falls. According to Laura “I have nights and weekends available, so it’s nice to be able to be so involved with this business, but Matt will be primarily running it. His schedule can be more flexible.”
“The building owner, Bruce Simpson has been wonderful so far. Very generous in helping us with whatever we might need. That’s huge, because you have to make it work,” says Laura.
They have some ideas for light renovations, but for right now, it’s mainly just painting that needs to be done to get ready to open.
They will also have packages for people who want to host parties and events in the space. “It’s an all ages space and even when we get our tavern license, we plan on closing at 10 on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Laura. “If adults want to rent this space, then we’d be amenable to that as well.”
Later this month, the couple plans to host their own children’s birthday run as a test to see how things work out. They’ll also be working with other local business to provide part of their packages.
“That collaborative spirit of Little Falls is really what we want to capture here. We don’t want to work in a bubble and we want to be able to use this as not just something that is successful and fun but as a way to cheerlead for other businesses too. We want to see everyone succeed,” said Laura.
An exact date for the opening has not been scheduled, but according to Laura it will be mid to late February.
You can find out more about what they are up to and check out pictures of their progress on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/meeplesmughouse/