Student Life

Montreal’s Randolph Pub offers an alternative night out

The pub sets up a game of Looping Louis. Photo by Leah Balass.

On the crowded St. Denis street filled with students and young party-goers, a unique pub that feels more like your childhood living room has made its mark amongst the busy bars, clubs and coffee shops of the area. And it’s the first of its kind in the city of Montreal.

At Randolph Pub Ludique customers are invited to enjoy an entertaining evening of board gaming, with professional staff known as gaming animators, who act as counselors to help customers select, learn and play one of the 1,000 games available.

“Nothing has been made like this before [in Montreal],” said Justin Bazoge, one of the four passionate co-owners of the pub,“There were establishments that had board games or board game libraries – in restaurants, in bars, [and] in bistros – but there was never animation.”

The pub, which opened its doors last July, caters to all demographics and group sizes – from couples, to friends and families, and even solo players looking to be paired up with others.  Bazoge says he has met customers as old as 70, though his client base is generally a student crowd, as it is situated close to universities and CEGEPs.

Among the pub’s diverse customer base, board game enthusiasts Jake Alper and Sandy Ruffin from Boston, chose to visit Montreal for their honeymoon after hearing about Randolph from some friends.

“We love board games so much that [Randolph] was the inspiration for coming to Montreal,” said Alper.

Staff teaches a group the rules of the game. Photo by Leah Balass.

Prior to opening the pub, co-owner Joël Gagnon hosted frequent gaming nights for Montreal’s vibrant board gaming community. Over the years, he has established a following of over 300 people, many of whom became Randolph’s most loyal customers.

“We’ve been animating, entertaining people with board games for over four, five years now, so it just made sense to open a place of our own,” said Bazoge.

For experienced gamers like Jean-Francois Beauchemin, Randolph is a great place to meet new people and get to know other passionate players in the city.

“It allows me to play with a lot of people that I haven’t played with before,” said Beauchemin.

Though none of the owners had prior experience in opening a pub or a bar, their combined passion for board gaming was strong enough to overcome the challenges involved in setting up their new business.

With over 850 board games of their own, the four owners had only a few more purchases to make in order to reach their goal of having 1,000 games to fill the shelves of their pub.

Bazoge and his three co-owners say they are glad to see customers enjoying the atmosphere and the concept of Randolph.

“People are happy, so we become happy,” said Bazoge. “I like the environment here because people don’t come to drink and get drunk, they come here to play games and have fun.”

Randolph Pub Ludique is located at 2041 Saint-Denis. It’s open everyday from 4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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