Board games, a meal or a snack and a caffeinated beverage to fuel you while you strategize your next move — The Magic Bean Café at 17 Kennedy St. provides these and the space to sit with friends and enjoy some quality time sans technology.
Open 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, the café is intended as a spot to meet up with friends or relax after a busy day.
Owner Rocco Pompa is a Northern Cambria native who followed his sister to the area. Both attended the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and his sister stayed to teach in Hinsdale, N.Y., upon graduation.
Asked what inspired Pompa to open such an establishment, he attributed it to a “lifelong (dedication) to being a nerd.”
In Pompa’s case, it also involved extensive travel to areas where board game cafés are standard, such as Toronto, Can.; Buffalo, N.Y., and Pittsburgh.
Seeing these businesses find success, Pompa determined it was time to try his hand in the game, as it were.
“I was tired of being bored,” Pompa said. Since Bradford did not offer a venue like his, he decided he would be the one to change that. He said the café is intended to welcome all ages, providing a place to gather (particularly once the threat of the pandemic has receded).
The work to get the café doors open has been a family-fueled endeavor. Pompa’s mother, Stephanie Pompa and sister, Theresa Pfeil were key to the artistic elements of the business, with Stephanie Pompa putting together a fun and all-encompassing collage of boards from both nostalgic board games and new and popular ones, intended to inspire the viewer to find a favorite game and immerse themselves in the fun again. Pompa’s brother-in-law Jason Pfeil and niece, Lydia Pompa, have both been key in getting things prepped as well.
The café offers a wall display of said games, which includes a wide variety. There is a small fee for all-day play, and visitors who have paid do not have to limit themselves to enjoying one game.
If visitors are a fan of a particular game that is not available, they are welcome to bring along their own. The fee still applies, as a sort of space rental.
The handwritten menu hung behind the counter offers paninis named for character classes in the game Dungeon & Dragons. One of the 18 flavors of coffee are sure to provide the jolt you need (or not, depending on your coffee drinking goals).
The menu also offers chili and chicken wing dip with tortilla chips, soda and energy drinks. In the current era of COVID-19, Pompa explained precautions are in place. The café follows social distancing protocols, with tables spaced six-feet apart. Bottles of hand sanitizer are readily available throughout the venue. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks.
Games that have been played by visitors are sanitized and quarantined for 48 hours as a precaution as well.
Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering players will be delighted to know that Bradford now has a welcoming venue for them as well.
Pompa also has a Card Shop, located in the neighboring store front at 15 Kennedy St. (accessed from Kennedy Street). The shop has a Dungeons & Dragons room, complete with hand painted walls (courtesy of Pompa’s mother and sister) and a table with room for a large number of players. It also offers a tournament room with two large tables and a sales area where accessories for the games are available for purchase.
“The Chamber is excited to see another new business open in Bradford, despite the pandemic. The local community has really stepped up to support local businesses during this time,” said Heidi Scrivo Passmore, Bradford Chamber of Commerce executive director.