This might look a little off-topic at first, but stick with it.
STV report that there has been an application for planning permission for a board game café in Edinburgh. The article suggests that the applicant is Daniel Hill, who was behind Escape, Edinburgh’s first exit game and which has grown to Glasgow, Newcastle and Dublin, with licensed games and joint ventures around the world. STV say “Now, the self-confessed gamer wants to create an ultimate destination for puzzle fans and have a board game café and live escape game under one roof.”
Board game cafés are nothing new. The most famous UK ones are, arguably, Thirsty Meeples of Oxford and Draughts of London, but this site wouldn’t swear that they were the first. A thread at the Board Games Geek forums asks the question; this site might suggest that the National Chess Centre in London, sadly bombed in the Blitz, would be worth consideration for the UK crown.
However, there are cafés where you can play board games and there are board game cafés, as they are largely thought of these days. Distinguishing features of the latter would include a very wide selection of games, with strong representation from those published within the last twenty years – and the more up-to-date, the better – and staff who will both suggest appropriate games for groups customers and teach the customers how to play them.
The model of combining a board game café with an exit game is new to the UK, but popular in Asia and in the greater Toronto area. Escape Rooms in Toronto maintains a master list of sites in the area and Escape Games Review‘s top spots list highlight four exit game sites which use the model already.
If you’re nosy, the STV article has a link to the planning application so that you might look at the proposed layout of the place. Exit Games UK thinks it looks hugely cool and that the board games café model may well prove to be another part of the future of exit games in this country as well as elsewhere.