CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

A goblet of wine? New fantasy games café bids for alcohol licence

Run down bookies is now Rogues Corner – 'it's nerdy, but not as nerdy as you think'

10 December, 2020 — By Tom Foot

A gaming table in the new café in Queen’s Crescent

A FANTASY games enthusiast is hoping to attract a new kind of “rogue” to a former betting shop once besieged by nuisance behaviour.

Rogues Quarter – a board games café – has opened on the corner of Queen’s Crescent and Ashdown Crescent and is hoping to be a hit with role-playing adventurers wanting to play classic games like Warhammer and Magic: The Gathering.

An opening quest, however, is to try and win an alcohol licence so that Dungeons and Dragons players can enjoy a goblet of wine while they play.

Owner Nick Masetti, 36, said: “I wanted to set up a quarter for rogues, for people who are not the mainstream. Board games are not for the 75 per cent. But there are the 25 per cent who will come and spend an entire day on it. Warhammer has such a large following. It’s not like football, but those people will take it just as seriously as people do with football.”

Nick Masetti at work

He added: “We have war gaming tables and we’ve got historical battle games that people can play. We sell tea, coffee, pastries, sandwiches and tapas – and we’re hoping alcohol. A lot of people I know who play are grown professionals: lawyers, mathematicians.”

Mr Masetti said he got the idea for the café after having to travel to central London to find somewhere to play.

“If you go to any major city in Europe, there are lots of places go and play Magic: The Gathering,” he said.

“But London is massively behind. You can come and take it as seriously or as liberally as you want. I like playing serious because you learn more but it often ends up with just running around and killing stuff. Generally it’s nerdy, but not as nerdy as you think it is.”

The café is hoping its arrival will mean a new leaf for the corner of the Crescent, where there have been shootings and stabbings and the bookmakers was once associated with nuisance behaviour.

Mr Masetti added: “I was aware that it was a troubled spot but so far I haven’t really seen anything happen, and it feels safe. The clientele we are attracting to this place will have a certain amount of affluence; the middle-class working professional who wants to come after work and have a beer and chill out with a board game.”

Mr Masetti said he was talking with the nearby Sir Hubert Von Herkomer Arts Foundation about bringing in children to teach them how to paint figurines and learn about dice and probabilities.

It has applied to serve alcohol until 10pm Monday to Saturday, and 5pm on Sundays, with a decision by the council expected next week. Neighbours have objected to the alcohol sales saying that “the last thing we need is a venue that can allow individuals to get drunk”.

Police are not objecting, saying “the licensed café-style venues experience less violence than drink/alcohol-led establishments”.

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