Heath Newton, Owner | The Sideboard Cafe
Five Minutes with Heath Newton, The Sideboard Cafe:
“When you combine good food and board games, people have fun interacting. We’ve created a social alternative to electronic games.“ .
Game On, Foodies!
The Sideboard Cafe is a completely new venture. At Cape Fear Games, next door, we served just snacks: packaged chips and things like that. When this space became available, I decided to go for it and do something like the game board cafe, Mox Boarding House, that I visited in Seattle.
I don’t have a hospitality background. I waited tables at Something Fishy for two years, that’s it. Chris Wallace, the manager, has food experience, though. Chris was at Yosake downtown for a very long time.
We had lots of ideas for decor, like over-size chess pieces, there are so many ideas. It’s been a lot of fun pulling this all together, with a lot of challenges, too. We wanted the design of the cafe to be comfortable and restaurant-like, but we wanted it also to be a cafe-type vibe that made people comfortable hanging out to play games, relax, and hang out with friends. We put a lot of thought into which board games would work best on the cafe side, and how to create an atmosphere that encouraged socializing. We wanted the food and beers to be good, too, not just an afterthought.
Who Says Don’t Play with Your Food?
We tried to keep the concept for food restricted to “clean” items, that won’t get the games messy. It all has to be food that you can eat while playing games. No Cheetos, no wings, no ribs. We are trying to do a little bit healthy, but we still have hot dogs. Personally, I eat very healthy, but I don’t think most people would like to eat the things I do, so the menu has to be broader than just hummus and vegetarian options. We decided to go with a good variety of sandwiches, all with high quality meats, no hormones and no artificial fillers. We have salads. And we have lots of foods – snacks and sweets – that can be shared with friends, which fits with the game theme of The Sideboard.
A table of friends can order menu items and share while they play. We are working with food ideas like cookie dough dip, which could become cookie dough in tiny cones… we are experimenting with what works best, and we are trying to find containers for some of our ideas, like what to serve a “flight” of cookie dough cones in.
Game in Progress
We are finding that what works well for presentation often won’t work in a commercial dishwasher. There are lots of logistical issues that we are solving as we evolve the menu. Our long term goals depend upon practical solutions – and we have lots of good ideas.
For lunch and dinner, it’s not a typical “meal” menu. There are snacking options and appetizers. The Sideboard lunch menu offers a full sandwich and hot pressed selection, but we don’t switch to a dinner menu. Chris put a spin on the classic items, and everything is made with healthy ingredients, really good bread, and options like gluten-free.
We have twelve different beers on tap. We have one cider that is very very popular. We are going with regional, local options; the only non-local beer is the house pour, which is a good-tasting option that is not big brand name. If you need caffeine to keep you playing, we’ve got freshly brewed, bold coffees, specialty teas, and hot chocolate.
If your game is stronger with a side of Buffalo chicken dip and a beer, you need to discover the menu at The Sideboard Cafe website. The Sideboard Cafe will provide games, from Monopoly or chess, or you can bring your own. Non-gamers are always welcome too!