Rolling the dice! Brooklyn Game Knight opens in Industry City

people inside brooklyn game knight
Brooklyn Game Knight — Sunset Park’s first game café and lounge — is now open at Industry City.
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Game Knight

Game night is every night at Sara Bender and Frank Szelwach’s home in Sunset Park — and now, all of Brooklyn is invited to join in at their new lounge, Brooklyn Game Knight.

The venue invites tabletop gamers of all levels — from expert strategists to newbies looking to relax with some friends at Industry City — to settle in and try something new or to enjoy an old favorite in good company. 

Bender and Szelwach soft-opened the space in June, with a big grand opening celebration planned for Aug. 26. 

“It’s been really great getting the place together,” Szelwach said. “And the community over here at Industry City has been awesome. There are so many board game and tabletop gaming people here … everyone’s been super welcoming, and we’re looking forward to having a good thing here.” 

brooklyn game knight interior
The shelves at Brooklyn Game Knight are overflowing with games of all kinds — perfect for visitors of all skill levels and interests. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Game Knight

Both founders are “big geeks,” and playing games together has been a central piece of their relationship, Szelwach said. He has always been a game enthusiast – dabbling in everything from party games to Dungeons and Dragons and war strategy games. 

Bender, on the other hand, wasn’t much of a gamer until she and Szelwach started dating. The first game he bought her was the card game Exploding Kittens, she recalled.

“It wasn’t just the basic games you grow up with, there was just this whole other world out there,” she said. 

The pair collected a huge range of games in their apartment, and during the COVID-19 lockdowns, their D&D group “mentally saved us,” Bender said, and everything snowballed from there. 

Once the pandemic eased, and the duo started having in-person game nights with their friends and going to game cafés, they realized how much they really loved it, Szelwach said. They came up with the idea of a new game lounge in Sunset Park and pitched it to Industry City — which eagerly accepted their offer.

“It was a concept that very quickly turned into a reality over the course of a few short months,” Szelwach said. “It was not expected to move this fast.” 

Bender and Szelwach are the sole employees at Brooklyn Game Knight so far, they told Brooklyn Paper over the phone as they manned the counter at the space — they head there most days when they wrap up their day jobs, taking just one day off each week. 

founders of brooklyn game knight
Bender and Szelwach run the lounge on their own. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Game Knight

When visitors walk into the space — with a seven-foot-tall suit of armor and painted chess pieces decorating the walls and shelves overflowing with games — they have two options, Bender explained. They can pay per seat in the lounge and settle in to play right there, or check something out of the “game library” to go sit in one of Industry City’s courtyards, or even at an adjacent biz. 

Customers are also welcome to bring in food and drinks from any of the myriad other vendors at Industry City to enjoy at Game Knight, she added. 

Bender’s favorite game, “Spots,” is stashed behind the counter to keep it safe until someone specifically asks for it, she said. Szelwach’s favorite — chess, which he described as “nearly perfect” — is more easily accessible for would-be strategists. 

chess at brooklyn game knight
Szelwach’s described his favorite game — chess — as “nearly perfect.” Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Game Knight.

Brooklyn Game Knight has already set up a schedule of events — “Tutorial Tuesdays,” where people can learn a new game, and “Role Playing Sundays,” dedicated to RPGs of all kinds. There are also miniature-painting sessions and maybe, someday, a dedicated D&D league.

Szelwach said they are also excited to partner with the many creatives at Industry City for more in-depth events. Plans are in the works for an interactive game of “Clue” in partnership with bkONE and some of the neighboring bars. 

The Aug. 26 grand opening will be full of family-friendly events starting at 2 p.m. and running until 11pm, he said — puzzle races, role-playing games, a presentation on the history of board games, and even bingo. 

“We’re really looking to grow a great community here,” Szelwach said. “It’s really been awesome, the amount of people who have been so supportive.”