Saturday June 15th, 2024
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Maadi’s New Huff Board Game Cafe is All Fun & Games (& Community)

You’ll find more than 70 games in this new cafe, along with expert board game masters who can teach you how to play them all.

Catherine Johnson

When Mohamed Sherif Sobhy quit his corporate job to start an independent business, he knew he was rolling the dice. Now, a month after its opening, Huff Board Game Cafe has shown itself to be a real winner.

Sobhy was first introduced to board game cafes while studying in the Netherlands. “A lot of socializing in Egypt revolves around going somewhere to eat and talk,” Sobhy tells CairoScene. “This felt like something new.”

For Sobhy, board games became a source of connection. He began hosting game nights where he would often serve Egyptian food. The parties became a way for him to stay connected with his home while building his community abroad. Once he returned to Egypt, Sobhy found himself missing the times he’d spent sharing board games with friends. Eventually, that is what led him to open a new board game cafe of his own.

Huff Board Game Cafe opened on March 7th, and is now home to more than 70 games. These games offer players the chance to embark on adventure, show off their gifts for strategy, unravel mysteries, compete in trivia, and more. They range from absurd, like Over Under Ostrich (which has players throwing cards in the air) to profound, like Deep Couple (which is designed to help partners connect). A mix of local and international brands, games for couples and games for big groups, as well as familiar classics and niche newcomers stock the shelves – and Sobhy knows how to play practically all of them.

While this wide selection might seem overwhelming, Sobhy has taken steps to make sure anyone who enters the cafe can find something that suits their interests. He and two board game masters are ready to suggest titles, explain rules, or even step in with new recommendations if they see that a table isn’t enjoying their selected game. All of this lends itself to getting people out of their comfort zones, something that is very important to Sobhy.

“People come and they reach out to the things they know and then they start playing it. But we want people to be more open to ideas, to go outside the box,” Sobhy says.

While Sobhy’s target audience is people in their 20s and 30s, his cafe is stocked with games that are suitable for everyone from six to well after 40. “We just hosted a birthday party for someone who turned 50,” Sobhy shared. “Our next birthday party is for a 16 year old.”

This universal appeal is one of the things that excited Sobhy the most. “Everyone who enters plays – nobody who comes just drinks coffee.”

One of the things that Sobhy noticed is the amount of connection he’s seen taking place within his cafe. Not only are customers coming in multiple times with different groups of friends, but strangers are uniting over common interests, and even joining each other’s tables.

Huff has definitely found its audience. In the venue’s first game night event, the place was packed. The cafe, which can seat 35, hosted roughly 50 people. In this special event, players rotated around different board game stations and competed to win themed prizes. Sobhy hopes to host a few nights like this every month, and has also been contacted by groups like GUC and Open Arab University about holding events for their students.

People in the Egyptian entertainment scene have taken notice of this early success. Although Sobhy was met with skepticism when he first started talking about opening his cafe, less than a month after opening he began receiving calls from different contractors asking if he would be interested in opening new locations in the North Coast or different parts of Cairo.

This isn’t the only interest the Huff Board Game Cafe has generated. The cafe has partnered with Nilco, an Egyptian board game supplier that has been operating since 1992. This brand has brought the cafe games and helped them with events. In the future, Nilco plans to send their Board Game Masters to the cafe for collaborations. Red Bull has also been a strong supporter of the cafe, and has assisted them in several of their opening events.

But for Sobhy, the most critical supporters of his new venture are closer to home. Sobhy credits his parents, siblings, friends, and girlfriend in making Huff Board Game Cafe a reality. “I didn’t know that I would get this support from everyone,” Sobhy shares with CairoScene. “It has made all of this possible.”

Huff Board Game Cafe is located on Street 206 in Degla Maadi, and is open every day from 11 AM to 11 PM.


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