Card and board game cafe opening this spring in Bothell

Matt Zaremba (left) and Kaleb Muse showcase the new Zulu
Matt Zaremba (left) and Kaleb Muse showcase the new Zulu's Board Game Cafe sign.
— image credit: Aaron Kunkler/Bothell Reporter

Downtown Bothell will soon have its own card and board game store by way of Zulu’s Board Game Cafe.

The store is the product of owner Matt Zaremba, and two employees, who during the past ten months have been renovating the building after Zaremba purchased it last spring.

“The smart, no-brainer was buying this property and starting it up,” he said.

Zulu’s will sell card packs for the popular Magic: The Gathering strategy game, as well as having various board games on hand for players to come and use.

Zaremba said he will also be offering a full kitchen menu, served from their newly renovated industrial kitchen, and non-alcoholic drinks. Beer and wine may be offered in the future, but Zaremba said he wants to keep it simple for now.

“What we’re trying to be is just a good place for friends, family,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, eat and play games.”

With exposed wooden rafter and support beams, a stained glass door window and fireplace in one large room, the interior has been renovated to resemble the Green Dragon Pub from the Lord of the Rings movie series.

A basement holds two additional rooms, which Zaremba said may be rented out to private groups.

Since it was built in 1937, the building has evolved, housing a rotation of businesses, including a restaurant, Eagles club and home, which in a way mirrors Zaremba’s path into board and card gaming.

He used to play a lot of video games, moving from single-player video games to multiplayer ones, but ultimately he said he found the large amounts of solitary time they required to be unsatisfying.

“I just wanted actual interaction,” he said.

So one day in 2010, he checked out a game store in Everett, and was hooked.

Kaleb Muse, one of the employees who has been remodeling Zulu’s with Zaremba, said he took much the same path getting into gaming.

“I needed something to do, me and my buddies found Magic: The Gathering and gave it a go,” he said.

Zulu’s is a place they both hope beginner and experienced players can come and feel comfortable.

Board gaming across the country has been getting more popular, with a 2014 article by The Guardian finding board game purchases rose by between 25 percent and 40 percent annually between 2010 and 2013.

“Board games have been getting more and more popular,” Zaremba said.

The greater Seattle area has businesses similar to Zulu’s, like Card Kingdom in Ballard, or Around the Table Game Pub in Lynnwood, but Zaremba said there are none close to Bothell. He anticipates players could drive from all over to hang out, eat and play card and board games.

“It’s not just Bothell, gamers will travel,” he said. “I’m trying to be the best place.”

At 3,300 square feet, Zaremba said Zulu’s is a mid-size gaming cafe.

Zaremba said he also hopes Zulu’s will mesh well with recent development in Bothell including McMenamin’s, planned apartment complexes and more businesses.

He’s waiting on some final equipment and permits and hopes to have Zulu’s open by the end of the month or early April.

“It’s crazy all the work we put into this,” Zaremba said.

Zulu's Board Game Cafe is located at 10234 Main Street in Bothell.

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