If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
Today, we’re dropping in to talk to a couple of the gentleman from XP Gaming & Cafe. This local stop is owned by Caleb Tapia, Kyle Ashley, Casey Parish, and Severyn Immenshuh all who of which are under thirty years old! However, don’t let their lack of gray hairs fool you; these guys have a solid mission to deliver a fun/unique experience to the community! Caleb, as one of the owners of XP Gaming & Cafe, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you all are and what you do at your business? ” XP is a family friendly, modern board game cafe. We have sandwiches, and all our coffee is locally roasted by Collective Coffee Roasters. We want people to sit down and have an experience with their coffee not just something they use to wake up. And, if you have some time to kill, we have a board game library of about thirty or so games that you can choose from; we love to sit down and teach people (adult and kids) how to play as well. It’s fun to be engaged with one another.”
“In 2016, I (Caleb) was approached by a friend of a friend about this (XP). 2016 was the first time the four of us sat down together to talk about a gaming cafe. In 2017, we all took a trip up to Seattle to visit seven or eight “board game cafes,” and we fell in love with the concept. People were having business meetings while playing games; we knew we need to get this to Elko. We wanted to create a comfortable/safe environment for people to come to sit down and get off their phones for a little bit. After getting a couple of months behind from when we wanted to open, we finally opened our doors on May 5th (2018). The original concept was to have arcade/video games, but then we realized we had to look at what we had capital and space for now. Once we flourish a little bit and move into a bigger location, we’d like to expand into that; we already have two arcade cabinets built. We’re really driven for Elko’s future, and because we’re only in our mid-twenties, we know we’re going to be around for a while, so we might as well invest in the community.”
Thanks for giving us some of the background and history, Caleb! Kyle, is there anything you would like to add as a fellow co-owner? “I want everybody to know that everyone is welcome. There’s no charge for table space; you can stay for as long as you’d like and every game in the library is free to play. My biggest goal behind this was giving people something to do here (Elko), especially kids. We wanted to give them something productive and social to do, something that will keep them off their phones, adults too. Everyone is welcome.”
Great! Caleb, is there any aspects of the overall experience of running XP that may be little different than what you initially expected? “People will come in and call us hipsters and stuff like that, but that’s ok with me because I want us to feel different from anything else in town. Anytime anyone comes into XP they are greeted personally; a lot of times, I’ll just ask them about what kinds of games like to play. Sometimes people will just come in to hang out or do work; that’s completely ok too. However, I didn’t expect to build relationships with so many strangers who have now become my friends, and I didn’t expect to the customers themselves to be so open with building relationships with one another; I thought maybe we (the owners) would have to be entertaining people most of the time or trying to get people to play. However, now people are so used to coming in here pulling out their Magic the Gathering Cards (for example) and greeting others with invites to join in too.”
You all are building a unique sense of community at XP Gaming & Cafe; that’s fantastic and much needed for many people. What’s next for you guys? What are your goals for the future, Caleb? “Our next priority is tackling the early morning coffee rush. For example, we want to encourage people, like those who are commuting into Elko from Spring Creek for work, to stop in. We’re going to hire a morning barista and open our doors at six instead of eight. However, overall, we’re trying to break down the walls of people’s preconceived notions when it comes to games. I like to play Dungeons and Dragons like it’s nobody’s business and people will laugh at that. However, I tell people, when I play, I’m doing the exact same thing you’re doing with your friends on a Saturday night. The only difference is, instead of playing video games or partying, we’re telling a story together. This is why we wanted to build a safe place where people can come and enjoy what they’re passionate about, judgment-free, and I would like to think we could encourage other people to do the same. I don’t think anyone should go anywhere and feel judged about anything. Nerds welcomed! Nerds Encouraged!”
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See you around, Elko!