Players are never ‘board’ at tabletop gaming café


Guests play Dungeons and Dragons at d4 Gaming Cafe. Owners Mark and Tracy Meyer brought the cafe to Oak Street in late March 2018. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Andrew Lang

At d4 Tabletop Gaming Cafe, you can get your meal while you try to level up your character. Upon entry, you’re greeted by a wall of games and a glass display case on the counter filled with miniature figurines. There’s a gumball machine filled not with gum but with different colored and sized dice.

Owners Mark and Tracy Meyer are role players and would go to a game shop in Metairie to play, Mark Meyer said. The café opened up in late March 2018. They got their idea for their unconventional business from the problem they noticed at the game store they used to go to.

“We would go bi-weekly and play and watch people go in there and hang out for five hours and not spend a dime inside the game shop and then go next door and buy Chinese food, come back and eat that food in the shop,” Mark Meyer said. “We had made the comment ‘Oh, he needs to start selling Chinese food.’”

The café sells and rents copies of tabletop games. It also sells a variety of sandwiches, soups and salads.

Regular customer David Ahrens-Bryant said the café has a varied community and a variety of role-playing games are played.

“You can be in here and there are people with full-sleeve tattoos playing My Little Pony RPGs with friends,” Ahrens-Bryant said.

The biggest money-makers for the café are food and Dungeons and Dragons books and accessories.

“I met two new people just talking about how my miniatures (collection) exploded because of this place,” Ahrens-Bryant said. “I did not have miniatures before and now I have shelves covered in these little thieves – because they steal everything, all my money.”

Another regular customer Sebastian Siegel also struggles with purchases.

“The worst is when he gets a new box and it’s like of a set that’s new or if one of us gets a box and gets a good pull, then everyone’s like oh I want a box, I want a box, I want a box. It just descends into madness,” he said.

Ahrens-Bryant said it makes it easier for people to get involved in the tabletop gaming community for both people with and without experience.

“I ended up helping these kids create their characters and it was hilarious,” he said. “I was like ‘You can’t do that. You are not a high-enough level.’ He was like ‘I just want to kill things.’ And I was like ‘I’ll lead you down that path my child, but, before you murder, you must create.’”

Mark Meyer said he has over 20 years in the restaurant industry and his wife has 10 years plus as pastry cook. After seeing other game stores in other cities, they decided to open their own store.

Mark Meyer said it took a long time after they started working on it to get the store opening and pointed out the “bureaucratic nightmare” board where he keeps his permits.

Now, he says they have 14 consistent long-term games going on regularly. They also host a lot of Magic: The Gathering games and offer a variety of other tabletop games for sale or rent.

Ahrens-Bryant said he is glad to take his business here instead of the other places he had been buying these products.

“You are buying things from people who actually care about what they are selling and care about the product and care about the people buying the product and know about the product.”