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Let's Eat: Carlito's brings board game fun to cafe setting

Simpson Street cafe has 65 games available for demo, while offering variety of beverage and food options

The timing was right for Chris Talarico to fulfill his dream of operating his own business.

Talarico’s lifelong love of games influenced his decision to start Carlito's Game Board Cafe, encouraging others to try new games with the help of his friendly staff and fuelled by specialty coffees and great snacks.

“I progressed to the position where it was a possibility, it was just time,” says Talarico.

He has been active for years in the local gaming community. Volunteering with like-minded groups and businesses. Talarico wanted to help to cultivate a fun and social environment for gaming through his own business.

“It’s been better than I could have imagined, everyone’s been super nice. Everyone’s excited about what we are and where we are.”

Carlito’s offers about 65 games currently in their demo selections. Talarico and his staff collectively know how to play all the games, so they can help guide new players with questions about rules and game play and setup. 

“We want to be a community space, we want to be a meeting space and the real goal is to break down the barriers of entry that would keep someone from starting a new hobby,” he says.

Talarico hopes to expand this knowledge by providing online tutorials in the future. 

The Cafe recently hosted a Catan tournament. 

“That was a national championship qualifier, so the winner will get an invite to play at the nationals,” he says.

Throughout the week Carlito's runs local events, mostly casual fun for the community. There is an upcoming Magic the Gathering competition that may get tough.

“That’s going to be a big tournament, people will be bringing their A-game for that.”

A little bit of friendly competition is important, he added, noting that the games can get competitive but always friendly in the end.

Carlitos offers a variety of hot and cold beverages.

“We serve Wolfhead Coffee, we’ll do a medium and a dark roast, we do all the espresso based drinks and specialty flavours.”

Teas, iced coffee and recently Italian sodas are also on the menu.

“I get all my baking from the lovely people at Crumbs, ordered in fresh I don’t freeze anything.”

Carlito’s also offered paninis with bread from Five-Star Bakery.

“Everything is made in house and everyone has raved about those so far,” he says. 

“It was important to me when we built the menu, I didn’t want anything super greasy. It’s gotta work well with a board game. If you can’t touch a card after taking a bite, it’s not on the menu.”

Carlito’s Game Board Cafe is the perfect way to try new games without committing to buying them. Offerings like Catch the Moon have simple rules with fun, Jenga-like game play, while others like Betrayal House on Haunted Hill can be complicated to start but full of excitement and unique scenarios that are great options for family game night at the camp.

Carlito’s website will be launching soon, and they plan to offer their menu items through the delivery service Skip the Dishes. Check out their Facebook page for updates and upcoming events.

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