Riley Desire has long wanted to be a pharmacist.
He began his pharmacy internship while attending Irondecoy High School and after earning his PhD in Pharmacy from St. John Fisher College in 2015, he began working full-time in the field.
He was on his way, but after a few years he began to question his choices.
Just before the novel coronavirus arrived, Dessier traveled to Toronto. A longtime board game fan, he stopped by Snakes and Lattes, his board game bar and restaurant, which has three locations in the Ontario capital and five others across the United States.
He envisioned a similar opening here.
Then the pandemic hit and being a pharmacist “no longer felt fulfilling,” said the 31-year-old Rochester resident. “It brought out the worst of humanity and didn’t seem like my eternal passion at the time.”
So he found something new and will share it with Rochester this fall.
Dethier plans to open its board game lounge, Dice Versa, in late September or early October in the former Original Grain on the first floor of Tower 280 at 280 E. Broad St.
A contractor is making changes to the space. “Nothing crazy,” Dessier said. “Rather, it’s more like aesthetics and paint and stuff. Basically, he envisions one long bar with stools and lots of cozy tables and seats, and a long shelf with all the board games you have access to.”
Unlike the Canadian business that got it started, Dice Versa doesn’t serve lattes or full meals. However, we also serve beer, wine, cocktails, soft drinks, appetizers, and shareable small plates.
Board games are the star of the show, with hundreds of titles ranging from classics like Monopoly to newer titles like Junk Art. Dethier is working with his former Penfield board game shop, Just Games, to curate the library.
“I don’t think people realize how big board games are today,” he said.
Its popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic, when families were quarantined and needed activities.
In an interview weeks before the Strong National Museum of Play expansion opened, Christopher Bensch, vice president of collections and chief curator, spoke about the trend.
Board games have “made a huge comeback during the pandemic,” Bensch said. “People used to enjoy it with screen time, but being able to sit around the table and engage with someone face-to-face has really rebounded and continues to be very strong in the toy and games business.”
It is this social aspect that Detier values most.
Unlike games played on a screen, board games “allow you to have a conversation while you play,” he said. “You can have a friendly joke and hang out with your friends. For me personally, I could spend hours playing board games with my friends.”
The plan is to charge $10 for 3 hours of playtime.
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Saturday noon to 1:00 a.m., Sunday noon to 9:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
lay the foundation
From the beginning, Dethier envisioned Dice Versa as having a permanent home.
But “I honestly didn’t think I had the experience to jump right into a brick and mortar store,” he says. “We didn’t have a name or anything yet, so we weren’t sure people would flood if we just opened.”
About a year and a half ago, he began testing the concept at pop-up events such as Pawsitive Café in the East End and ArtisanWorks on Blossom Road in partnership with caterers.
“There were 20 to 30 people at those events,” he said. “It was really fun and gave me an idea of what to expect.”
He also hosts events for college students, who, along with people in their 20s to 40s, said they are the people most focused on attracting as customers. “But obviously families and kids can enjoy it as well,” he said. “Because board games are fun for everyone, to be honest.”
Dice Versa is one of several new properties surrounding The Grove, a courtyard between the Butler/Till buildings at Tower 280 and 260 E. Broad, and Branca Midtown has been open since late 2016.
These include Unwine’d, which features a self-pour wine system, and The Grove Chop House, a steakhouse where meats are cooked over a wood fire and finished in a 1,000-degree charcoal oven.
If the Dice Versa takes off here, Detier said he hopes to expand to Buffalo or Syracuse in the future.
“I can’t imagine going national. But I want to keep doing it and give people that service,” he said.
Correspondent Marcia Greenwood is in charge of general duties. Send your story tips to him email@example.com. follow her on her twitter @MarciaGreenwood.