St. Louis’ first board game cafe debuted in Soulard on Dec. 22. Pieces: The St. Louis Board Game Bar & Cafe features a library of more than 500 board games, a full bar and a food menu featuring entree bowls and shareable appetizers. The opening follows a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“We’re a community space. That’s our mission  to bring all kinds of people together,” says co-owner Laura Lettau. “I get a thrill when I walk through the room and see families and friends laughing uncontrollably. It’s nice to see people put down their phones and just socialize with each other.”

Lettau co-owns the combination cafe-and-entertainment concept with her husband, James, and Ameet Rawal. Chef Jesse McGraw, who previously served as the restaurant manager at Market 65 in Columbus, Ohio, heads up the kitchen.

Pieces fills the 4,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Franco, with around 90 seats. Furnishings include bright-blue chairs obtained from the closure of Gringo, hand-sewn pillows made by James’ mother and custom tables crafted by area artisans Shellback Iron Works and boardgametables.com. Curvy sound barriers on the ceiling add a decorative, functional touch to the cozy environs.

In the kitchen, McGraw cooks up a menu of fresh, hearty dishes to enjoy alongside the gaming experience. Choose from shareable plates such as housemade wonton chips, Filipino lumpia, nachos and hummus with Indian paratha bread.

For something more filling, opt for an entree-sized bowl. Options include housemade chili, mac 'n' cheese and a Southwest-themed bowl with cornbread, tomato-basmati rice, sour cream, cilantro, Mexican slaw, seasoned black beans, sweet-chipotle sauce and avocado  available with barbecue pulled pork, shredded chicken, chorizo tofu or seared tofu.

Another highlight with any choice of protein is the Pieces Poke Bowl with marinated sushi rice, sweet-chili sprouts, avocado, red onion, cucumbers, jalapeños, chives, black-sesame seeds, lime, Sriracha mayo and wonton strips. Produce is sourced from St. Charles-based Old Tyme Produce as well as the neighboring Soulard Farmers’ Market. Brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

From the bar, choose from a beverage list that includes Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. beer on tap, bottled beers, wine, hot chocolate, Excel Bottling Co. sodas and cocktails. The After School Snack, for instance, features a rocket pop spiked with vodka and sugar-cane lemonade.

Board games are organized alphabetically by the following categories: easy, medium, hard and party games, including everything from well-known classics to locally made games. Designated staff, dubbed board-game navigators, are also always on hand to help out.

Pieces: The St. Louis Board Game Bar & Cafe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 11:30pm, Friday from 4pm to 1am, Saturday from 10am to 1am and Sunday from 10am to 10pm.

Pieces: The St. Louis Board Game Bar & Cafe, 1535 S. Eighth St., Soulard, St. Louis, Missouri, stlpieces.com