Spend any time in Metro Manila, home of the capital of the Philippines, and you’ll probably experience the region’s infamous traffic and stifling heat. You might hitch a ride on a jeepney or a tricycle, the preferred modes of public transportation, before finding a place to cool your heels.
For gamers, TableTaft Board Game Cafe is an ideal spot to take a break from the non-stop commotion. Located upstairs in a small shopping center, TableTaft offers cold drinks, hot food, and a wide variety of board games, from classics like Monopoly to the latest incarnation of Zombicide.
It’s the kind of place co-owner Lance Lim and four high school friends dreamed of opening in the Metro Manila area, close to where they went to school.
“As we played more games,” he said, “we realized we wanted to open a business where people could enjoy the same games we did.”
Now in its third year of operation, TableTaft Board Game Cafe provides a place of rest and relaxation for local customers, many of whom attend the nearby university. “Students love to play Avalon and One Night Ultimate Werewolf,” Lim said. “Also, Secret Hitler, Splendor, and Exploding Kittens.”
Along with its growing library of board games, TableTaft offers a wide selection of Filipino and Filipino-influenced food and drinks as well.
“We want our customers to enjoy themselves with the best gaming, food, and drinks,” Lim said.
TableTaft’s milkshakes are a popular choice, as customers look to beat the heat with custom-crafted concoctions such as Smores and Salted Caramel. For those looking for something to munch on between turns of Champions of Midgard or Dead of Winter, the menu offers a tantalizing array of dishes. Customer favorites include TableTaft’s signature Buttered Garlic Chicken (chopped fried chicken slathered in a buttery garlic sauce served over steamed rice) and Apple Turon a la Mode (apples in a fried spring roll wrapper, served with ice cream and chocolate or caramel syrup).
All of the delicious eats and drinks help keep gamers fueled for their next tabletop adventure. A self-described Marvel fan, Lim’s favorite game is Legendary and he enjoys teaching it to new gamers. He talked about the importance of customer service and how the staff is always available to help customers.
“We have our Game Coaches who can teach every game that we offer,” he said. “A lot of customers are new to these types of games,” he said. “It’s different than the typical games they’ve played, like Monopoly. We want to level up their game play and also their knowledge about board games.”
“We have our regular customers who’ve made their way to other [hobby] games,” he said. “One of the most played by our regulars is Betrayal at the House on the Hill.”
Along with providing a quality gaming experience, supporting local game designers has been an important part of TableTaft’s mission. “We want to show the best of local games,” Lim said. In addition to well-known titles such as Catan and Ticket to Ride, gamers can play and purchase games such as the abstract-based Indigo Hack or Love Letter-influenced Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato, which we’ve covered previously here on Geek & Sundry.
But it’s the cafe’s focus on providing a unique dining and gaming experience that brings people back. One of the game coaches, A.J. “Happy” Rodriguez, talked about his passion for gaming. A former Muay Thai fighter and RPG player, he likes sharing his tabletop knowledge. “I really enjoy teaching the social deduction games to people,” he said. “Werewolf, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong; the mechanics are simple to teach.”
“It’s a nice feeling when you see people enjoying the game you just taught them.”
For more information on TableTaft Board Game Cafe, visit their Facebook page.
Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola, TableTaft Board Game Cafe
Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.