Mac & Chess is Miami’s first board game cafe, and yes, that’s a thing.
Editor’s note: This paragraph has been updated to reflect that New York’s S’mac is not a board games cafe, but a mac-n-cheese place the owners admire.
Owners Michael Acosta and Michael Noa – a.k.a, Mike and Mike – were inspired by board game cafes like Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes where people can play board games while drinking local brews and eating mac and cheese. They were also inspired by New York’s S’mac for its famous macaroni and cheese.
Mac & Chess, which opened in June in a strip mall just south of Belen Jesuit in West Miami, is the kind of hipster spot you’d expect to see pop up in Wynwood, not West of Westchester. But both Mikes are Columbus and Belen alums and they wanted to stay local and develop the area they love. Plus they’re hoping the location appeals to the nearby FIU college crowd.
“It’s not ‘Mom and Pop’, it’s ‘Bro and Bro’,” Acosta said.
The two met at a Miami Heat game a few years ago. When they realized they both loved board games — and got tired of hosting game nights at each others’ homes — they started scheming ways to open a board game cafe.
“You can meet and play games, but you don’t have to stay and clean up late and you don’t have to worry about people in your house until 12 o’clock at night,” Acosta said.
And the mac and cheese?
“We tailgate for the UM games, and he’s the one who has, like, 30 people at his tent,” Acosta said about Noa. The cafe offers its customers the chance to load up their mac and cheese with whatever they want – Acosta says they’re like the “chipotle of mac.” They also serve up hot dogs ripper style (sliced and deep-fried) and a select of locally brewed Miami beers on draught.
“If it’s not from Miami or the South Florida area, we won’t put it on draft.” Acosta said.
Of the more than 200 games they offer at the cafe, Cards Against Humanity is one of the most popular games that people play. But hobby games, which can be more complex, require more strategy, and take longer than your average Yahtzee or Game of Life, aren’t as popular in Miami yet. That’s what Acosta hopes to change by introducing people to something he enjoys doing.
His all-time favorite hobby game? Game of Thrones. “It’s one of those three-hour strategy games… Man, this is the most fun,” he said.
If you’re interested in getting into a group hobby game and you’re feeling adventurous, Acosta suggests Settlers of Catan, which he calls a “gateway game.” For those of you who don’t know where to start, Acosta and Noa will suggest games and might even show you how to play them if they aren’t too busy.
Acosta said they’ll keep adding games to their collection. “We’re always going to be building.”