Alumna brings community the gift of fun and games

February 29, 2024

A group of people stand in front of a store with a large ribbon and scissors.

As Jennifer Barone ’06, owner of Back Again Board Game Café, reflects on its inaugural year, the memories and milestones paint a vivid picture of a space that is more than just coffee and board games — but rather of a vibrant community.

What sets Back Again Café apart is not just the games or the coffee, but the people.

With collaborations with Middletown Pride, the Senior Center and Alzheimer's Association, the cafe is more than just a place to hang out, but also somewhere the people in the community can feel at home.

“The Senior Center event gave me one of my favorite memories; Someone came up to us and said, ‘Thank you for bringing back my childhood.’ That’s why we're here,” Barone said.

The reception from both the board-gaming community and locals has been overwhelmingly positive. Foot traffic has remained steady and their community of regulars continues to grow, thanks to their warm and inviting atmosphere.

Between trivia nights and Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, the café is never short on fun ways to spend a night out. Weekday afternoons present customers with a calm atmosphere while weekends buzz with activity.

For Barone, her degree in interactive digital design directly inspired the creation of the cafe's website and branding. Drawing from the eclectic courses she enjoyed during her time at Quinnipiac has helped her build the cafe's approach to community engagement, ensuring that every customer feels welcome and enjoys their visit.

“We've always enjoyed board game cafes in other states and countries. It's no secret that gaming requires fuel, so it was clear that treats and caffeine were a nice pairing. Honestly, we just created what we would want to exist for a visit. Late-night tea, cookies, and games in good company sounded pretty good to us,” she explained.

While Back Again Board Game Café is celebrating its first anniversary, the journey is far from over.

Barone has plans underway to maximize the space, planning to introduce themed backrooms and more events. From student study breaks to senior game time, the café offers everyone a game to enjoy.

When asked what advice she would give, Barone said, “Don't go it alone. The wheel you're struggling with has probably already been invented. Take some basic accounting courses. If you're doing what you love, even though you're working like mad, it doesn't feel like work. Lastly, know what you want from the business for you, how it connects to you and how you'll hold on to that and what conditions are considered time to walk away from the business or time to celebrate success for you.”

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