“I’ve got great memories of hanging out on my grandmother’s porch and playing Uno or Parcheesi,” says local restaurateur Matt Hendricks. “I can’t tell you who won or lost any of those games, but I can tell you the names of everyone I played with and how much I always looked forward to it when I’d go to her house.”
That in mind, Hendricks opened Thirsty Dice in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section in 2018. Four years later, he’s introduced Main Liners to the board-game cafe concept with Twenty One Pips in Ardmore. His throwback approach to interactive entertainment brings together good food, cocktails, coffee and, most importantly, family and friends.
Appropriately named for the number of dots (pips) on a six-sided die, Twenty One Pips has over 600 games in its library. For a $5 fee per person, you can enjoy two hours of game time assisted by on-site “tenders” who are happy to help guide you through the nuances of strategy-based games like Catan, party games like Blank Slate, and classics like Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee and Jenga. Family-friendly options include Candyland, Trouble, Connect Four and Operation.
With seating for 170, Twenty One Pips’ two-story space also has two vintage Skee-Ball alleys and an Atari Pong table. A swanky old-school vibe is evident in the lipstick-colored swivel stools at the bar, which was constructed with vintage furniture. Padded antique church pews share space with black-cushioned booths that encourage group play. Lush moss on the walls helps the cavernous space feel more intimate, and playful art throughout boasts primary colors that pop. The custom neon-lit sculptures are fascinating, and the bathrooms incorporate larger-than-life, game-themed murals by local artist Natalie Hope McDonald.
Twenty One Pips’ evolving menu is somewhat limited. Right now, it includes locally sourced cheese and charcuterie boards, crudité, and sharable flatbreads. The two burger options come with a side salad, and our mussels were well prepared and quite savory. Another highlight: the sweet and smoky shishito peppers, glazed with ponzu sauce and topped with pickled ginger and sesame seeds. And the chili corn dip is perfect shareable fare for game night. In keeping with Twenty One Pips’ family-friendly philosophy, there’s also a kids’ menu.
Along with wine and beer, playfully named cocktails include the Professor Plum, the What’s Up Doc and the Rummy. Pips also offers Herman’s Coffee and Au Fournil pastries at its grab-and-go cafe. Lunch and brunch menus should be available soon. Also look for specialized game clubs and a Family Feud night.
TWENTY ONE PIPS
24 Cricket Ave, Ardmore, (610) 228-2711
COST: $7–$31; $5 game fee per person.
ATMOSPHERE: Let’s just say you won’t need your phone.
HOURS: 4:30–10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Sunday.
EXTRAS: An online game library highlights what’s new.