College Park Hot Spots: The Board and Brew

Michael Chmar has a background in fine dining. Not only has he worked as a chef in numerous restaurants, he’s also opened restaurants. Chmar hates the bitter taste of tea and coffee and he is not devoted to board games.

Dumping 9 packets of stevia into his cup of boiling hot tea, Chmar sat doing work on a wooden table in the back corner of a restaurant. A restaurant that he is a part-owner of. A restaurant named for board games and coffee.

The Board and Brew has leather couches scattered throughout and the College Park spot serves small plates, sandwiches and salads. Guests can pay $5 for unlimited play of the extensive board game collection that towers in the center of the restaurant.

The Board and Brew opened in 2014, founded by two University of Maryland alumni. Now, this local spot has plans for expansion and plans to redo their entire menu.

Chmar, who became a partner about a year ago, said how The Board and Brew is planning to open another location in the Washington, D.C. area over the next year. He said, “We’re looking to be in an area that’s not terribly different than this that is close enough for us to be able to manage it properly.”

 

Joe Werner, a managing director at the Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group, said when looking to expand “you need to attain product-market fit.” He added, “understanding your customer and their needs is vital.”

Michael Padhi is a senior lecturer in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, who has a Ph.D. in finance. When talking about the risks of expansion, he said, “If the expansion makes everyone more prosperous, then I would expect greater property values, and property tax revenue to rise. But, I could also imagine that an expansion could make a city less desirable to live in, which could reduce property values.”

Chmar also said he’s planning “drastic changes” for the menu. He plans to add “a lot more vegetarian and vegan offerings,” and said, “the small plates are going to become much more sophisticated.” Some menu items that Chmar is planning to add are falafel sliders, fried avocado and bacon-wrapped dates.

Since opening a few months back, Vigilante Coffee has become one of The Board and Brew’s top competitors for breakfast and coffee. However, Chmar does not think The Board and Brew has a direct competitor for lunch and dinner, given that the board games make the restaurant unique.

Despite Chmar not being an avid board game player, the two founders of The Board and Brew, Brian McClimens and Ben Epstein are. Board games are a big draw to the restaurant Chmar said, adding, “On the weekends, people are gaming like crazy.”

Chmar said, “We have a very high regular clientele.” He divided the typical guests into three main categories: avid game players, families and college students.  

Sophomore public relations major, Melina Mehdizadeh, says she goes to The Board and Brew all the time. Mehdizadeh said, “the people there are really friendly, the staff is nice,” she added, “it’s really chill...I like the couches. They make me feel comfortable and at home.”

The Board and Brew is located on Route 1 under the Varsity.