Ottawa’s first board game cafe hopes to monopolize entertainment in the capital

August 22, 2012 5:18 pm
Board games lay stacked to the ceiling, waiting to be lined up for the opening of Monopolatte

In the course of a typical day at work, David Narbaitz can be a real estate hot shot, military strategist and a duelling magician.

It’s easy to see why his resume can be so full when you walk into his store on Somerset Street. The rooms are mazes of board games, stacked high on shelves and even higher on the floor, some piles reaching nearly to the ceiling.

These board games, like Monopoly, Risk and Wiz-War, allow him a world of possibilities each and every day to be something or someone new.

And he wants everyone in Ottawa to feel the same way.

Armed with 600 different board games and counting, Narbaitz is opening up the capital’s first board game café, a place for the public to play board games, mingle, socialize, eat and drink.

Narbaitz is following in the footsteps of similar stores in other cities like Toronto, but his love of board games started more than a decade and a half ago.

“My love of board games started when I was 10 at summer camp,” says the 27-year-old Narbaitz.

“And originally it was just a hobby, but I realized it was an underappreciated hobby and I wanted more people to get involved. I just found that every time I introduced board games to people who didn’t know them they had a new outlook on them and they realized it was more fun than they thought.”

After years of board gaming, Narbaitz, an Ottawa native and graduate of the University of Ottawa’s engineering program, decided that the time was ripe for a board gaming business in the city.

“We knew that other places in Ottawa and around the world provide space for board gaming, like tables in a back room somewhere. But those spaces aren’t always the most inviting so we wanted to create a space that was inviting to everybody,” says Narbaitz about the vision that spurred his venture.

Monopolatte's owner David Narbaitz shows off his extensive board game collection.

And so began the long process of drawing together Monopolatte’s most valuable resource: board games.

Narbaitz had about 100 board games already in his collection before he began going to garage sales “like a madman” to build a gigantic library of games.

And now, a year, 500 board games and dozens bargain binges later he is ready to open his store.

But there are still a few snags. Narbaitz has had to delay the grand opening of Monopolatte for at least a couple weeks while he waits on a couple of city permits necessary for him to open shop in Centretown.

But the hurdles have not stopped Narbaitz from dreaming of a day when his café will be the social hub of Ottawa, challenging the bar scene and duking it out with high end coffee shops.

“(Monopolatte) is going to strike a really good balance between the bar scene, where people go to meet each other, but it’s often too loud to really talk to people, and the coffee shop scene where it’s almost taboo to talk to people,” says Narbaitz

“It’s going to be a really social environment where you can meet new people, but talk to them and with a little bit of a distraction in the games to make it easier on you.”

Narbaitz’s vision of a packed café on a Friday night faces a bigger enemy than the local bar scene and a couple drawn out permits. It has to line up in the race for attention beside the ever-growing influence of new technology and the entertainment opportunities it offers to all generations.

However, Narbaitz says that deep down people will never abandon what makes board games so great in the first place.

“I think people really yearn for even the chance that there is social interaction. You can invite two people over to your table to play board games with you and at the end you could have become good friends,” says Narbaitz.

Narbaitz has first-hand experience of the camaraderie board gaming can bring and what he hopes to achieve with Monopolatte.

“I’ve made hundreds of friends board gaming,” says Narbaitz, “I have some friends I met board gaming that are now mailing me games from Australia for the café. I’m hoping the store can be a place to meet life-long friends for others. That’s what board games can do.”

Persona Non Grata: Art by Lesotho’s Orphans

August 20, 2012 9:05 am

Persona Non Grata is an art show to benefit the orphans of Rachel’s Home taking place on October 10th, 2012 from 7-10 PM. This event will be held at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 310 St. Patrick St., Ottawa, to raise funds for post-secondary scholarships and awareness about the ongoing AIDS epidemic in Lesotho.

The show will feature thought-provoking photography and paintings by the orphans of Rachel’s Home, an orphanage and school in Maputsoe, Lesotho. The night will be filled with art, African music, spoken word poetry and a Lesotho marketplace.

A piece from Persona Non Grata.

The orphans at Rachel’s Home have lost their families to HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, there is stigma and discrimination associated with those affiliated with HIV/AIDS. We believe the only way to break the stigma is to provide the children with a post-secondary education in order for them to become functioning members of their community. The Canadian Rachel’s Home team works closely with the founders of the orphanage, a local Basotho family, to provide food, education, shelter, and medicinal supplies for the children.

Stephanie Vizi is the founder of Persona Non Grata. She is a fourth-year Carleton student. She has had the opportunity to travel to Lesotho twice to volunteer at Rachel’s Home. She started Persona Non Grata because she feels privileged to receive a post-secondary education and she believes her friends in Lesotho should be able to do the same.

Stephanie Vizi with the orphans. Courtesy of Rachel's Home.

We would would like to invite you to the Persona Non Grata Event on October 10, 2012. For further information, interviews with Stephanie or media kit please contact:

Stephanie Vizi, Persona Non Grata Founder


Twitter: @RachelsHome1 

Facebook: Rachel’s Home

Celebrating Ottawa’s Colourful Community

August 16, 2012 5:40 pm

Ottawa’s queer community and its allies will be coming together and celebrating at this year’s Ottawa Pride Festival.

Known as Ottawa’s most colourful festival, Capital Pride will be hosting various events and activities in celebration of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. “Once a year, our community has the opportunity to come together and celebrate its positive contributions to the greater community, the National Capital Region,” says Mark Power, vice-chair of communications of Capital Pride.

This year marks Capital Pride’s 27th anniversary.  From August 17 to 26, various activities will be taking place. The theme of this year’s festival is Come Out and Play! “This year’s theme captures the positive and celebratory spirit of the festival and will encourage members of the community to come together in Pride,” explains Power. “There might be a double meaning in there too (i.e. coming out), but no pressure – come as you are!”

Large crowds gathered at City Hall at last year's Capital Pride

Volunteers play a crucial role in the organization and execution of Capital Pride. “Our festival would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of its volunteers,” says Power.  “The event organizers, board members and festival crew are all volunteers.”

The programming offered during Pride is varied and targeted to the Ottawa’s diverse LGBTQ community. Some of the festival’s highlights include events organized by Capital Pride’s community partners: the Leather Pride Brunch, Pride Week Karaoke, and a comedy night entitled Laugh Out Proud 8. Every year, a Pancake Breakfast is hosted by the Ottawa Police Services. In addition, the Capital Pride Awards Gala will be recognizing Ottawa’s queer community leaders.

Fun for the Whole Family

There are also family friendly activities such as the Pride Parade and the Picnic in the Park. This year’s Picnic in the Park is hosted by Capital Pride, Rainbow Family Services, Children’s Aid Society and Ten Oaks and will be happening August 21st at 4pm at the Hintonburg Community Center (1064 Wellington St). Burgers and hotdogs will be served, and there are fun activities for the kids, crafts & lots of fun for the whole family. There is no charge for this event.

Getting Youth Involved

Every year, the festival features programming targeted specifically to youth. The second annual Pride Prom will be taking place August 24th at Falldown Gallery. Last year’s event was a huge success and Capital Pride wishes to continue offering fun events for young members of the LGBTQ community. Capital Pride’s Youth Program Coordinator, Jodie McNamara, explains the importance of getting youth involved in the festivities.  “If the role of Capital Pride is to celebrate our sometimes undervalued diversity, the role of Capital Pride’s Youth Committee is to assert that diversity anew,” said McNamara. Youth interested in participating or getting involved can visit the Capital Pride Youth Facebook page.

Families gathered at City Hall during 2011 Capital Pride festival.

Entertainment on the Big Stage

On the last weekend of Capital Pride, there will be entertainment at City Hall, on both the Alternative Stage and the Main stage. Admission is $5 to access the site and there will be a variety of vendors on site offering a variety of delicious foods and drinks. On Saturday, the Alternative Stage, which was introduced at Capital Pride last year, will feature musical acts like Jack Pine + The Fire, Kidstreet, Ornaments, Fevers, and the PepTides.

Every year, the Capital Pride festivities culmenate with the Pride Parade, happening on the last Sunday of the festival. This event is free for everyone. After the parade, musical acts will be performing on the Main Stage at City Hall. Performers include Hunter Valentine, Young Empires and Cherry Bomb.

Supporting the Community

Although they might not identify as queer, Power explains that allies and supporters of Ottawa’s queer community get involved in the festival every year. “We have several allies and supporters already involved in various volunteer capacities,” explains Power. “We hope to see everyone at the festival – the more diverse the crowd the better.”

There is no shortage of fun activities happening during this year’s Capital Pride festival. So be sure to get involved and support our LGBTQ community. For more information on Capital Pride and to check out the programming schedule, visit


August 7, 2012 9:00 am

The cornucopia of offerings in Ottawa’s theatre scene is brimming with exciting plays-from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry the Fifth (both which are touring the city’s parks) to The Great Canadian Theatre Company’s production of the father and son drama, The Secret Mask, and Theatre-Nouvelle Scene’s Quelques Humains (Pierre-Michel’s absurdist portrait of a group of decadent, cynical adults)-these plays present poignant plots steeped in a common theme: the human dilemma.

The Irving Greenberg Theatre

Take for instance Karen Balcome’s work, Snapshot. Directed by Patrick Gauthier, this unique piece invites Ottawa theatre-goers to witness what happens when grandfather and granddaughter behave like foes rather than family. Heavy and light-hearted moments define the action and tone for the play as the two protagonists find themselves feeling lost and alone after the loss of their beloved wife and grandmother. Can they make a connection with one another or are they destined to be family in name only? Can their secrets be shared and conflicts resolved? The main protagonists suffer in their own way, but like most of us, they yearn for some kind of connection. Negotiating conflicts and overcoming stubbornness can create new beginning for both  Snapshot is a story about crossing divides, and stumbling upon a path that accidently brings unity to an otherwise disconnected relationship. It will be staged at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre next month.

The play, My Name is Asher Lev, is sure to stir the hearts of every artist watching it. Set in the 1950’s in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community, the stage play was adapted by Aaron Posner from the book by Chaim Potok. The 9th Hour Theatre Company will be presenting the play inside Sandy Hill’s Arts Court Theatre, until Aug. 25. A bit autobiographical, My Name is Asher Lev daringly presents what it means to be an artist tormented by conflicting generational values. The protagonist, Asher, is an artist conflicted with his dreams and his parents’ aspirations for him. This is a taut story ripe and reeling with intense family derision. Asher is pitted against his deeply religious, tyrannical father. Asher, a gifted artist, is obsessed with painting, but his traditional upbringing does not allow for artistic expression. His parents are aghast at their son’s disinterest in Judaism along with concomitant daily rituals. The masterpiece Asher creates is a glaring insult to his family. His paints a crucifix, but it is his mother, not Jesus who is on it. This painting graphically references her own pain, for her other son was killed while traveling for the Rebbe, the community’s a great spiritual leader.

My Name is Asher Lev

Asher’s angst has combined with his mother’s in this great art work. But triumph is often the flip side of tragedy. When an artist chooses, gain gives way to some kind of loss. Jacob Kohn’s, Asher’s art teacher, tells him: “As an artist, you are responsible to no one and to nothing except yourself and the truth as you see it”. In the end, Asher has to choose between family and destiny.

Ottawa’s ‘playfest’ has something for everyone interested in the human condition. Allow yourself to be transported into the world of others while enjoying great theatre!

Recent Posts