The Rook OTR game parlor and bar opens

Posted at 6:00 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 07:41:19-04

CINCINNATI — Zach Leopold has one goal for The Rook OTR, his new board game parlor and bar, which will open at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Over-the-Rhine.

"It's our business mission to give people the best game nights of their lives -- their game, their beer, their food," Leopold said.

Visitors will find nearly 1,000 games inside the two stories of 1115 Vine St. that Leopold and his family renovated during the past six months. Games range from classics such as Battleship and trivia to nostalgic favorites like Pokemon to modern strategy board games like Catan.

The Rook's food menu is made up of shareable items such as smoked salmon with bacon sliders. There also are "classic" game night foods, such as pizza rolls, tater tots and hot dogs. Craft brews from Rhinegeist, MadTree, Braxton and Urban Artifact round out the 12 beers on tap behind the bar, where craft cocktails are available as well.


Before The Rook opened, Leopold asked future customers via the parlor's Facebook page what games and craft beers they wanted to see. The response was overwhelming.

"I had no idea," Leopold said. "I knew there was an audience of people, but to see the whole city respond to the excitement and board game preferences, I would have never expected it."

He said some people were excited that he already had stocked games such as Pog and dominos. "I would have never expected anyone to come here for dominos," Leopold said.

The Rook can seat about 50 people on the first floor and 150 on the second. Seating is divided into clusters of two to 10 throughout, with more bar-like games located in the front of the house. A "Clue"-themed game room on the second floor is available for rent by large groups.

In general, though, guests can play games for free with the purchase of food and drinks.

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

An event coordinator at The Rook is working on a calendar of themed game nights that Leopold plans to update on the bar's Facebook page.

"We are thinking about a 'Throwback Thursday' night where people play games like Pokemon or Pog," Leopold said.

He also plans to host a Harry Potter trivia event in July where the winner receives a Firebolt broomstick.

Leopold said he is proud of the business he has created with the help of his father, Jim Leopold, who owns the Scallywag Tag laser tag centers located on Cincinnati’s east and west sides.

"Honestly, being in OTR, the scale of this project was a whole new ballgame," Leopold said. "I think we’ll bring a different quality and experience."