Board game parlor promises new fun in OTR

Posted at 3:22 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 15:22:04-05

CINCINNATI — Zach Leopold plans to put a whole new spin on “game night” in May when he opens the Rook OTR, a board game parlor and bar, in Over-the-Rhine.

“What I want to see is the community of OTR and the city of Cincinnati enjoy those board game nights as a community,” Leopold said.

The self-described “board game geek” is remodeling 1115 Vine St. into a two-story space that will allow about 150 people to play classic games like Battleship, card games, trivia and modern strategy games like Catan, all for free.

People will be able to sit in groups of two to 10 throughout the Rook, with more bar-like games located in the front of the house. There also will be a second-floor space available for rent by large groups, along with a full-service bar and kitchen on the first floor.

“We want to encourage people to stay and enjoy those games as long as possible,” Leopold said.

The bar will have eight to 12 craft beers on tap and signature cocktails with game-themed names like the “Mr. Monopoly Manhattan,” “Candy Land” and “Pretty, Pretty Princess." Leopold said the kitchen will serve “game night” types of food, but the menu has not been finalized yet.

Leopold said he signed the lease for the Vine Street location with his father, Jim Leopold, toward the end of last year. The elder Leopold owns the Scallywag Tag laser tag centers located on Cincinnati’s east and west sides.

Zach Leopold said he began making plans for a board game parlor and scouting locations shortly after he began working for his father five years ago.

“When I came on, I was charged with changing and growing the business,” he said.

As Over-the-Rhine evolved during that time, Leopold realized the neighborhood would be the perfect location for his concept bar. 

“I think we’ll bring a different quality and experience,” he said.

Leopold promised that experience would include "the best version of game-style food you’ve ever tasted,” along with hundreds of classic games and highly competitive strategy game nights.

The Rook OTR plans to start accepting applications for servers, bartenders, kitchen crew and “board game experts” later this month. For more information or updates, visit The Rook OTR’s Facebook page or website.