Nick Curci: ‘Hackney is a hive of creativity – it’s a perfect fit for Draughts’
PUBLISHED: 12:09 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 12 November 2019
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Draughts has given Londoners a cool spot to play board games since 2014. Originally based in Haggerston, the venue specialising in family favourites and retro classic games has switched to Dalston, where they’ve been settling in to a fancy new 3,000 square foot abode.
With room for 180 guests and more than 1,000 games in its library, these are exciting times for founder Nick Curci, who talks us through Draughts' arrival on Kingsland High Street.
Where did you get the idea for Draughts in the first place?
Draughts was born out of a love of board games and shared experiences. I realised more often than not, I was socialising at the local pub and having a one dimensional experience, and I wanted to do something different. The increase in popularity of escape rooms got me thinking about how to create a space where people could get together over good food and drinks and enjoy something slightly different.
Have you always had a passion for board games? If so, what games used to be your favourites and why?
You have to love board games to get on well at Draughts! I grew up playing all of the classics that we know and love, but nowadays I love nothing more than finding a really niche and unusual game (of which we have many!). I tend not to play games at Draughts, as I'm always busy behind the bar, in the kitchen, and explaining games to customers. I do have a healthy collection of games at home though.
How does the new Dalston venue compare to your former Haggerston site?
Our site at Dalston is very different to our former home. The new site is significantly bigger, which means we can offer more expansive private hire options, a stronger food and drink offering and, most importantly, more games! We will be launching our terrace next spring, which we're hugely excited about.
I can imagine it would have been a bittersweet experience leaving Haggerston - where Draughts first made a name for itself?
Yes and no. Haggerston will always have a very special place in our hearts, however we have needed a bigger home for a while. We love our new location, so we're really happy and excited to be in Dalston.
Why is the Draughts concept so well suited to Hackney?
We love Hackney - it's a melting pot of different cultures and it's a hive of creativity all of which is a perfect fit for Draughts. We knew that Hackney was the best place for our first home. We now have a site in Waterloo too which, of course, is a very different vibe, however opening up there has really proved what we always knew - board games are universally loved!
You must get visitors from around the world - where's the furthest afield that you know somebody has travelled from?
Yes! We're very lucky as we have people visit from all over the world. As a born and bred New Yorker, we have a fair few visitors from the States but we've seen guests enter our doors from every continent and corner.
Draughts isn't just about the board games either, can you tell me about your food and drink menus?
Our food and drink offering is something we've worked really hard to perfect. When we first opened our doors we were more focused on games. We quickly realised though that, with people staying for long periods, we needed to have a compelling food and drink offering.
We've partnered with Andy Jones to try and create a menu that has something for everyone while not trying to cover every type of cuisine under the sun. On the drinks side, we have regularly rotating local craft beers and some fantastic cocktails, named after our most popular cult games. All in all, we're really proud of the results.
Draughts is now open at 41 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, E8 2JS. The £5 entry fee gets you four hours of gaming. More details here.
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