Owners of new Lincoln gaming café mix work and play | Games


Mana Games, 1.21

Griffin Campbell, 14, (from left) Gareth Campbell, 11, Joshua Campbell and Jeb Trine play a board game at Mana Games on Jan. 14.

On a wintry Friday in the Haymarket, families escape the cold and gather around tables inside the historic Creamery building with coffees and hot chocolates in hand. Each group leans over a different board game, teasing, cheering and laughing — all the emotions involved in a lively family game night.

Behind them sits a labyrinth of bookshelves filled with games for the taking. Their choices range from dominoes to trivia. There are games about cats, cryptids and Jane Austen.

Mana Games, a café that opened at 701 P St. earlier this month, boasts a collection of more than 800 games and counting.

Its owners, Sam Volkmer and Alma Cerretta, might’ve only recently opened the café to the public, but Mana Games has been astir since 2018, when they began hosting game nights at Cosmic Eye Brewing. The friends of 15 years began to build a faithful following in Lincoln through their weekly events. Eventually they felt ready to move into a permanent space.

In September, the pair launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring their dreams into reality. By offering memberships, merchandise and even a chance to be part of a mural inside the shop, the campaign raised more than $21,000.

The store’s grand opening on Jan. 8 felt like victory.

“We had a lot of people here that day,” Cerretta said. “It was really great.”

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