Roll the dice on Mana Boardgame Tavern in the North Side | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Roll the dice on Mana Boardgame Tavern in the North Side

click to enlarge PHOTO: SHANNON EBBITT
Photo: Shannon Ebbitt
When husband and wife Shannon and Vince Ebbitt decided to open a board game bar, they settled on the site of the old Shamrock Inn, the North Side watering hole once owned by Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.’s brother-in-law, John Laughlin.

Then the walls collapsed.

“It’s been completely rebuilt since then,” says Shannon Ebbitt, adding that the entire building, except for the front section, is brand new.

Now officially open, Mana Boardgame Tavern boasts over 250 games, as well as an additional 200 in storage to be rotated out over time. Then there’s the décor, ranging from the outer space imagery in the front bar to the darker medical science and Lovecraftian art that defines the gaming rooms, not to mention the Cthulhu painting on the wall of the men’s bathroom.
click to enlarge PHOTO: SHANNON EBBITT
Photo: Shannon Ebbitt
Each guest pays $5 for access to all the games, which are organized by the amount of time needed to learn how to play. There are also group discounts and memberships.

The grand opening comes after two years of work that included a Kickstarter campaign that raised $11,301 for the project.

Shannon says the business satisfies her husband’s desire to open a bar and her lifelong love of games going back to playing with her parents, also avid gamers.

“We always had an eclectic mix of board games,” says Shannon, who says she now owns 475 games, many of which are now in Mana. “It got to a point where my personal game collection outgrew our house. As a joke, it was mentioned that we should open a bar to put all of our games in it.”

After doing research, she realized that most big cities have board-game cafes or bars and decided that Pittsburgh definitely needed one.

“I think [gaming groups are] a little more prevalent than people realize because it’s not really an advertised thing in this area,” says Shannon. “This area is all about the sports.”

In addition to the games, the bar offers a food menu, extensive cocktail list, and eight Pennsylvania-based draft beers on tap, as well as a non-alcoholic root beer option. Because Mana’s assistant manager is gluten intolerant, the small bites are served with gluten-free bread and crackers and there’s always a gluten-free beer available.

Besides giving anyone a place to play and have fun with friends, Shannon hopes Mana becomes an asset to regular players who don’t want to deal with the headache of buying snacks and drinks and cleaning up after their “drunken board game nights.”

“We’ll give people a place to have their game nights and not have to deal with any of that stuff,” says Shannon.
Location Details

Mana Boardgame Tavern

919 Western Ave, Pittsburgh North Side

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