Lakeview’s board game cafe that will feature sandwiches, coffee, and — eventually — beer opens on Friday. Bonus Round Game Cafe started out as a Kickstarter project about a year ago. Owners Courtney Hartley and Drew Lovell have connected with Chicago’s gaming community who have supported their efforts to create a venue that celebrates their hobby. Bonus Round has assembled a library of around 300 board games.
“We’re just trying to create a good social setting for people to come in and share some time with actual people instead of just staring at a computer screen,” Lovell said.
The game library is proudly displayed on shelves to the left of the door near a lounge area of comfy coaches. There’s a coffee bar with counter seats in back. Bonus Round is a full-service espresso bar and they’ll use beans from Chapín Roasters, a company that donates money to help impoverished children in Guatemala.
Hartley and Lovell are married, with Hartley focusing on the back of the house while her husband focuses on the front. Lovell is proud of the tidy menu. They’ve got four sandwiches including the house special — a roast beef sandwich with ghost pepper jack cheese, sweet caramelized onions, and yellow peppers on a hoagie roll. There’s also a Greek-style vegan sandwich with hummus and Greek slaw stuffed in a pita pocket. The cafe will also have a few snacks and sharable plates. Craft sodas are available, and so will beer — eventually. The owners are still waiting for their liquor license.
Staff will be available to introduce customers and teach them how to play game titles like Settlers of Catan and Raiders of the North Sea. There are no TVs inside. It’s a different atmosphere compared to the sports bars on Clark that dominate the area as folks head north toward Wrigley Field. Business diversity could be good for Lakeview. Lovell mentioned how his crew worked late over the weekend at the cafe on St. Patrick’s Day and saw all the drunken revelers pass by from the safety of the cafe: “It was interesting with the people out the window,” he said.
There have been a few bumps to prep for the opening, which is completely normal. For example, the coffee grinder they ordered arrived broken — and what kind of coffee bar can’t serve coffee? While drip coffee may not be available tomorrow, they’ll have espresso. They hope to be a full strength by Friday or next week. See what Bonus Round can add to the neighborhood starting on Friday when the cafe opens.
Bonus Round Game Cafe, 3230 N. Clark Street, open 11 a.m. to midnight on weekdays except closed on Tuesday; 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends.