Holiday play: Philadelphia shop offers fun and games

"Pretty much any type of board game or card game, we have it here," said Jeannie Wong.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was pretty easy for Edward Garcia and Jeannie Wong to choose the name of their game-themed store.

"Queen and rook is of course chess," said Garcia. "And we are in Queen Village in Philadelphia, so it just seemed right."

The couple opened Queen & Rook Keep on South 2nd Street in Queen Village just five months ago. And, already, they're developing a strong fan base because they have something no other place in Philadelphia has.

"We're happy to have the largest board game selection in Philly. More than Target, more than Walmart," said Garcia who estimates that the store carries about 1,000 games for various age levels and interests.

"Pretty much any kind of board game or card game, we have it here," said Wong.

Believe it or not, the store was the result of a pandemic pivot. The original Queen and Rook is actually a café that opened in 2019.

"We have a full restaurant, a full bar and more than 1,300 games for people to play," said Garcia.

But when the pandemic hit, the restaurant had to take a pause. After relying on delivery for a few weeks, Garcia and Wong started to see that there was an increased demand for the board games they'd been selling out of their café.

That's when they had the idea to open a stand-alone retail store.

"We found a space two doors down (from the café) that had been empty for more than a year," said Garcia.

The two soon expanded their retail and their horizons as a small business owned by two people of color.

It leads to diverse thinking about even the smallest items they carry.

"This is the second year in a row we've been lucky enough to get Dreidel Dice," said Wong of the popular item.

The owners say they carry a wide range of games that customers say they can't find anywhere else. Other shoppers may be looking for standard games that can be found at many places but they prefer to do their business locally.

"We get a lot of people who say I know I can find this at Target or on Amazon, but I'd rather get it from someone local," said Garcia, adding that his shop is usually within about 10% of the big retailers' prices and - in many cases - is often cheaper than big retailers.

Oftentimes, shoppers can try out games if Wong and Garcia have an opened version of it at the café (where they require gloves while playing the board games and sanitize every game after being used).

Wong and Garcia share the love by carrying games created by local women and minorities. They hope their shop will help more families enjoy the holidays.

"When you think of board games, you think of friends and family and good times," said Garcia.

Queen & Rook Keep

613 S. 2ND St.

Phone: 215-995-0043

Website: queenandrookcafe.com

Holiday Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 5:30pm-10pm

Friday & Saturday: Noon-Midnight

Sunday: Noon-8pm
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