When Athena Peters visited Mox Boarding House, a gaming bar in Seattle, she realized she was among her people.
“It was just a great place as a gamer,” she recalled. “This thought of [food and games] being all in one place was great. There wasn’t much of an option like it in the Boston area. I thought, Why not make one?”
So she did. On Wednesday, Adventure Pub soft opens in Arlington with board games and a full menu of pub food from head chef Jason Smith, who helped found the restaurant. Though Smith is largely influenced by Japanese and South Asian cuisine, the food at Adventure Pub is inspired by a variety of regions. Diners will find pork belly sliders, Korean barbecue steak skewers, crushed fried potatoes, and blood orange squares, all served as small, tapas-style plates — and not just because small plates is the restaurant trend that won’t quit.
“The food needs to be on a small plate because we need to leave room on the table for board games,” Peters said. “We reduce as much as we can of things that have to sit on the table, [like including] dishes that don’t take a fork, knife, or spoon to eat.”
Adventure Pub will have another menu detail that is becoming more prevalent: included hospitality.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to start a company was that I wanted to build an employee-first company, which is centered around the fact that our success comes from treating employees well,” Peters said, explaining that staff salaries start at a minimum of $15 per hour and include benefits. “Regardless of what industry you’re in, your employees should be able to have benefits. I’ve been inspired by really large restaurant groups, and with the changes in the [increased minimum wage] laws, it’s kind of a change that the restaurant group is going to have to move into anyway.”
The restaurant hopes to receive its full liquor license next year and plans to serve beer, wine, and cocktails.
As for the gaming menu, names like Cards Against Humanity, Blackbeard, Ticket to Ride, Escape Room, and Q-bitz are included among the more than 300 board games listed. Guests can play one game for free from a list of complimentary games, which usually don’t involve long playing times. More involved games — those with a game master, for example — require a $10 cover charge per person, which is valid throughout their entire visit. Players who BYOG — bring your own games from home — are also charged $10.
Part of the Adventure Pub space used to be an old bank built in the 1920s, and the original facade still remains. Inside, most tables seat up to five people, though there are a handful of two-tops and larger tables that seat up to eight. Peters is working on a system that allows gamers who are looking for more players to place a card holder with a number on their table. And for those who already have a stable gaming crew to play with, there’s always the Wizard’s Tower, located in the old bank vault.
“That room hosts all of our campaign games, things like Dungeons & Dragons,” Peters said, noting that the private room also features stone walls and flickering torches.
Gamers can rent the Wizard’s Tower at a group rate of $40 per hour, which includes the $10 per person cover charge.
Peters also runs an interactive theater company called Incantrix Productions, and she’ll be using her event production background to bring immersive events to Adventure Pub, including the espionage-based, role playing game Aces & Operatives.
A lifelong gamer, Peters sees Adventure Pub as a dream realized.
“I’ve played games since I was a kid,” said Peters, who recently retired from the video game industry after 15 years.
As for new games she’s into: “I’m actually playing Fallout 76 with my husband [right now]. It just launched; it’s their new multiplayer take on Fallout. That’s a digital game, but with board games it kind of cycles through. We’ve been trying to play a new board game or two with the staff once a week.”
Guests can visit Adventure Pub starting on Wednesday to eat, play games, or do both. And for those who don’t have gamer friends, Peters said the restaurant has a deck of cards — perfect for playing a game of Solitaire.
Adventure Pub; 190 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington; Wednesdays–Fridays from 2 p.m.–midnight and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.–midnight; theadventurepub.com