Senet Game bar offers board games, libations in relaxed atmosphere
Derrick Wright said it was a trip with his wife to the famed Mox Boarding House in Seattle that drove home how much fun combining food, libations and board games could be.
What stuck in his mind was not only how the business had a café/restaurant on one side where patrons could play board games but also a large retail game board store on the other.
"We loved the concept so we wanted to come back to Portland and find a place that had that," said Wright, 41. "We couldn't find it. I was unhappy in my corporate life … and decided I wanted to open my own place and it took me five years to get to a place to quit my job."
Finally he did and, in June, Wright and his wife Ellie opened Senet Game Bar in the former Tigard Cycle and Ski Shop at 12553 S.W. Main St. in downtown Tigard.
Wright said he's been long familiar with the site — he purchased his first mountain bike in the same location in the 1980s.
Senet is named after what is believed to be one of the oldest known board games, played by no less than Egypt's pharaohs.
Meanwhile, Wright has partnered with the shop below, Versus, a retail board game store owned by Tate Breswick.
When Wright is done stocking all the games he plans to have on hand at Senet Game Bar, he'll have between 50 to 200 of them.
"My friends and I have been playing board games for a long time," Wright said, noting that many times they'll all gather for game-board road trips. "We visit multiple breweries and at the end of the night, we'll rent out a house and play games and have whiskey."
His business, which Wright believes is the only one of its type in Washington County, also has 12 taps featuring Northwest beers and ciders. Wright said he selected each brewery himself and personally knows the proprietors of three of those — Cointoss, West Coast Grocer and Three Mugs. In addition, he's met with the owners of Parrett Mountain Cellars and Silas Wines, who provide his white and red wines, respectively.
"A lot of what I want to focus on is people interacting with each other," said Wright, pointing out he hopes to accomplish that not only through playing board games but also by letting customers build Legos, robots, puzzles and terrariums.
Meanwhile, along with board-game playing, Wright came up with a focused food menu featuring flatbread pizzas, paninis and bratwurst. The business also recently started a Saturday and Sunday brunch beginning at 10 a.m., which will feature everything from baked French toast to biscuits and gravy.
Still, Wright said, he wants to make sure no one overlooks the focus on the games.
"For me, the board games are just as important as the food and drink," Wright said.
His current personal favorites are Tuki, Splendor and Deep Sea Adventure.
While the vision for his business didn't occur overnight, Wright said once he and his wife secured the Tigard location, they began remodeling: installing new hardwood floors and tile as well as spending more than two months focusing on getting the lighting perfect.
"My wife came up with the design for the bar, the orange wall for the games and the striped wall for the private area," he said.
The bar and one large game table are made from refurbished bowling lanes from a now-defunct Portland alley.
In addition, Wright plans to add art to the walls and get acoustic panels to dampen the sound in the business.
He said the city has been supportive as well.
"The welcome I've gotten from the city of Tigard has just been amazing," he said.
Wright has roots in the area. He lives in Tigard, his mother has lived here for 20 years and his grandmother attended Tigard High School back in the day when it was located where Value Village is now.
For the future, Wright he'd like to open another location, hopefully within the next five years.
Senet Game Bar
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Wednesday's are game nights; 3 to 11 p.m. on Fridays; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
Where: 12553 S.W. Main St., Tigard.
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