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Hendricks and his wife got the idea to open their board game cafe while on vacation in Toronto. Photo: Matt Hendricks.
Hendricks and his wife got the idea to open their board game cafe while on vacation in Toronto. Photo: Matt Hendricks.

How Thirsty Dice Cafe on Fairmount changed the game for coffee shops in Philly

Founder Matt Hendricks first discovered a board game cafe in Toronto. He brought the idea back with him to Philadelphia.

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The story of Thirsty Dice at 17th Street and Fairmount is as unique as its name.

It was on a trip to Toronto to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary when Matt Hendricks and his wife Becky, stumbled upon a board game cafe, something they'd never seen before.

“It was 2017, I was working at another job and I did a lot of soul searching,” Hendricks said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News. “I thought about a board game cafe in Toronto and how cool it would be to have one in Philly.”

Hendricks and his wife opened Thirsty Dice Cafe in October 2018 with the goal to bring families and friends together and relax together over coffee and board games.

“We have a lot of great classics,” he said.

Locals all over Philly got the opportunity to visit the cafe and see their eclectic selection of games ranging from the classic Monopoly, Scrabble, and Battleship to more serious gateway board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. In total, there are over 800 games to choose from at Thirsty Dice.

For Hendricks, he's hoping that his customers see his cafe as a chance to put down their gadgets and interact with one another with a friendly game.

“We have a ton of folks come in and just chill and relax,” he said.

Although many small businesses had to close their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hendricks found different ways to keep his business intact.

“We offered contact-free pick up, it was exciting,” he said.

Board games are usually a way to connect with family, so Hendricks also created ‘comfort crates,’ customizable boxes that can include coffee, pizza kits, cookie kits, and of course, board games and puzzles.

“We also took the time to do some renovations to the shop,” said Hendricks.

Thirsty Dice even hosted virtual game tournaments through Zoom and encouraged customers to speak with game tenders, employees who are able to help answer all questions regarding board and video games.

The board game cafe is now open for indoor services, and customers can happily enter, pick up a game, and order some delicious food.

The company uses Hermans, a locally sourced coffee roastery in South Philly, to keep their customers focused on the game. It sells hot chocolate, lattes, and cappuccinos. 

On top of the coffee, Thirsty Dice also has a scoop shop serving Bassett's Ice Cream. It offers a wide variety of flavors, toppings, milkshakes, and boozy milkshakes.

“One of our most popular milkshakes has to be our apple turnover milkshake,” said Hendricks.

The handcrafted ice cream treat is made with apple whiskey, French vanilla ice cream, apple pie filling, and crumbled apple turnover.

Hendrick’s cafe also sells an impressive amount of delicious foods such as pizza, mojo chicken nachos, empanadas, and different flavors of chicken wings.

“We also make sure we cater to vegans and other customers with dietary preferences,” he said.

Hendricks also uses his space to host nonprofit organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs.

If you are in the neighborhood and want to check out their array of board games, visit Thirsty Dice Cafe at 1642 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia.

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