Pick from more than 450 titles at Short North board game parlor

Kingmakers is a game parlor in the Short North that boasts more than 450 board games – from Apples to Apples to Zombie Dice – that are neatly shelved on a wall and ready to entertain you and your friends.

Guests pay $5 apiece to access the game library for unlimited play. Employees, known as “Board Game Sommeliers,” know how to play the games, so besides serving snacks and beverages, they can explain rules and offer tips for outsmarting opponents. Heck, they’ll even sit down and play with you, if you’d like them to.

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My son, Max, and I visited Kingmakers on a Sunday afternoon when most of the tables were occupied. Guests enter under a striped awning off Buttles Avenue and descend an indoor staircase. It felt like I was taking my 5-year-old to an underground bar, but, alas, the stairwell led to a bright, comfortable space with groups of noticeably content people playing board games at various sized tables with mixed-matched chairs.

Kingmasters takes only credit cards for payment. So when you enter, you’re asked to provide a card to keep a running tab of your expenditures. We started off with a $10 charge soon after walking in.

Beverages and snacks are available, including beer on tap and in cans, wine, soda, coffee and locally made snacks, such as a mix from the Krema Nut Company in Grandview. Don’t attempt to bring your own snacks or games from home, however, as they’re not permitted. I ordered a wine for myself and chocolate milk for Max.

The joint is welcoming to children, visible by the selection of board games such as Candy Land, Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Sorry. Children’s games are clearly marked, as well as the duration of time you can expect to play.

Most games, though, appear to be of the role-playing variety, the likes of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve never played these types of games, but I think this would be the perfect, non-threatening place to give them a try.

Max and I spent two hours playing five games, three of which were new to us. All pieces were contained in the boxes, which isn’t always the case at home. The space allowed us to focus on the games, and I could tell that Max appreciated his one-on-one time with mom. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Kingmakers is located at 17 Buttles Ave. Parking is located at nearby meters, and there is no fee on Sunday.

Hours are 5-10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight, Friday; 1 p.m.-midnight, Saturday; and 1-10 p.m., Sunday.

For more information, visit View the game library at

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Chuck E. Cheese’s

Confessions of a closet fan

Don’t judge, but we’re regulars at Chuck E. Cheese’s. In one moment, as parents, we were saying we’d never step foot into the chain restaurant that’s got a ratty-looking animatronic mouse for a mascot. But the next moment we realize we’ve been there five times, saving up game points so we can redeem top-shelf prizes for our kids. (We only need 500 more tickets to get the Star Wars Fighter Pods, which go for 2,500 tickets.)

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How did this happen? I blame it on an invitation for a preschooler’s birthday party, which we didn’t even attend because we were on vacation. But once the thought entered our son’s brain of a mystical place “Where a kid can be a kid,” it was over. The requests poured in.

“When are we going to Chuck E. Cheese? Can I have my birthday there, too?”

Going there on our own would be easier than hosting a party, we thought. We spent two hours at the Dublin location playing video arcade games, a bargain considering we’d spent $20 on 80 brass tokens, which filled two plastic cups. It took just one coin to play each game instead of two or more like at other entertainment centers. And the games worked, dispensing tickets as they were supposed to.

The restaurant also was clean and the environment felt safe, thanks to a woman who served as gatekeeper at the entrance. She made sure family members displayed matching glow-in-the-dark stamps before they exited.

The menu offered plentiful options beyond pizza, and the salad bar looked appetizing. We soon found out we weren’t the only closet fans, as the place has been packed each time we’ve visited.

There are three Chuck E. Cheese’s locations in central Ohio:

  • 2711 Martin Rd., Dublin, 614-791-9480
  • 4284 Macsway Ave., Columbus, 614-863-6482
  • 3631 Soldano Blvd., Columbus, 614-351-8884

For more information, visit

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