| The Repository
A trio of best friends who are obsessed with playing and collecting board games have opened a board game bar in downtown Canton.
Milestone, which is billed as “Game Night. Every Night” is a labor of love for Nick Brewer, Luke Gaul and Scott Watkins. The guys have been working since February on creating the inviting and user-friendly venue at 321 Cleveland Ave. NW, in the former Aura Salon & Spa.
While COVID-19 delayed Milestone’s opening, originally planned for June, it also “has given us the time not to compromise,” Brewer said. His brother Josh is owner of The Auricle, the live-music venue a few blocks away.
Milestone is a handsomely designed venue, with lots of thoughtful detailing in the decor, from the custom shelves that hold the diverse inventory of about 800 games, to the concrete-topped bar, to the interesting artwork, to the cup holders and display shelves for games. Rhythmic ambient music provides the soundtrack.
The place feels simultaneously spacious and cozy. There are eight game tables in the main room that can accommodate up to 36 players. Two private rooms, designed for parties and other gatherings, seat eight and 10.
As for games, the selection is mind-boggling. They range from family and classic games (Monopoly, Operation, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Yahtzee and Twister) to party games (Cards Against Humanity, Resistance, Sheriff of Nottingham, Just One) to strategy games (Gaia Project, Terra Farming Mars, Scythe, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Clank!).
There are puzzle games, dexterity games (involving flicking and stacking), auction games, deck-building games and work-building games. Most can be adapted into drinking games. A full list of the games can be found at https://milestone.games/.
“It’s not just nerdy, super-deep complicated games. We have the whole spectrum,” said Gaul, 38, of Plain Township. “We’ve probably played 70% of them.”
Brewer, 39, a Plain Township resident and self-styled “game sommelier,” added: “We’ll recommend games all day long. It excites me so much to be able to share.”
Milestone is hoping to feed a growing desire for board games. The global market for board games is blowing up, according to Statista.com. Estimated to be around $7.2 billion in 2017, the global game market is projected to hit $12 billion by 2023.
Fun, laughter and socializing are prime goals at Milestone.
“We never want this to feel like an exclusive club,” Watkins, 31, of Jackson Township, said.
“We really feel like we’re going to bring people downtown who don’t normally come here,” Brewer said.
A curated selection of craft beers are available, eight drafts and 18 bottles, plus domestic brands like Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. There are seltzers and ciders, wine (canned), and a full-service bar with specialty cocktails, soft drinks, coffee and water.
Gourmet hot dogs will be available in the near future, Brewer said. Until then, outside food is permitted.
The Milestone cover charge is $5 for unlimited game play per day. Hours are 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“There’s always a chance we may close before 2:30, depending,” Brewer said. “We have to stop serving (alcohol) at 10.”
Ages 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Ages 16 and 17 are welcome until 8 p.m.
As for COVID precautions, masks are required whenever people aren’t seated at a table. Hand sanitizers are visible and encouraged before touching games. Tables are spaced apart, and tables and chairs are sanitized between uses. Games are quarantined for 24 hours after they are played.
Brewer, Gaul and Watkins have been game players since childhood, and their love for board games has increased in adulthood. All three are married dads.
“The three of us found out we all had a passion for games about five years ago, and we started playing them together,” Gaul said. “Our collections grew and grew.”
“Luke and I got closer through board games,” Watkins said. “Getting older, not wanting to go out as much.”
“It didn’t make sense for us to leave all these games on our shelves,” Brewer said.