Raising the question of "What is a Turquoise Goat?", Vancouver’s newest board-game cafe brings back the '90s
By Marco Ovies
With Vancouver still mourning the loss of Storm Crow Tavern, a new uniquely named board-game spot has come to fill the void. Turquoise Goat offers some serious '90s nostalgia.
Walking into Turquoise Goat—opened by co-owners Joey Kudish and Leah Katz—feels like a blast to the past. The interior includes a wall made out of CDs, a giant vaporwave-inspired mural by artist Dana Justine Belcourt, and dinosaurs eating D20s. But if the retro decor isn’t enough, the board games will draw you in.
“You'll have access to a combined library of hundreds and hundreds of games,” Katz told the Straight. “I don't wanna misquote myself here, but we're probably reaching close to 1,000 titles.”
Having that many games to choose from might sound intimidating, but the partners have already thought of a solution to that in the form of a game steward.
A game steward is “someone who functions not only as a host but also someone who gets to know you and your likes and dislikes,” Katz explains. The game steward can make recommendations from the library and then teach you the game in a few minutes. For a flat fee of $10, you’ll gain access to the board game library and the all-knowing game stewards for three hours.
You can’t play board games without snacks
Turquoise Goat isn’t just a place for games, it also has a large menu of food and drinks that will help you relive your childhood, featuring things like snack platters and gummies sold by the pound. They’ll also be serving alcoholic drinks.
What caught our eye were the Galaxy Pancakes—rainbow pancakes containing no artificial colours. Instead, they are made with things like blue spirulina, matcha, and butterfly pea flour to give them their rainbow colour.
What we are most excited for is the cereal bar, and it will come with old-school Saturday morning cartoons played on a TV straight from your parents’ house in the era of the grunge, Gen-X slackers, and Friends.
Making the Turquoise Goat
While a lot of thought went into creating the '80s and '90s nostalgia, that's not all Katz and Kudish kept in mind while designing the space.
“Joey and I both identify as queer and part of the queer community,” said Katz. “So, we built a space that feels safe and welcoming to everybody of every walk of life to the best of our ability. We've tried to hire an inclusive and diverse staff with different lived experiences.”
Kudis added, “We have probably about a dozen games that can be played by braille readers, and a variety of games in different languages as well as games that we've sort of shortlisted as good for someone who isn't an English speaker, or people who are of low vision or hard of hearing.”
There's also braille signage on the bathroom doors, and there was plenty of space to move around the cafe.
Fall in love with a board game? You can take it home.
If you end up falling in love with a game that you’ve played, you’ll be happy to hear Turquoise Goat will have a retail space and an online store. The space will also sell board-game merchandise like sleeves and deck boxes, and alongside Turquoise Goat merch.
What the heck is a Turquoise Goat?
There's still one burning question on our minds: why the name Turquoise Goat?
Kudis said the mystery is part of the appeal. “The only Google result should hopefully be us and some turquoise goats.”
More shocking than the name choice is why decided to open a board-game cafe. After a six-month-long road trip across North America in a converted Sprinter van, the couple decided to build their cafe inspired by all the places they visited.
“We were looking for social gathering spaces," Katz says. "Somewhere where you could meet the locals, get a taste for what it was like to be in that city. And we ended up at board game cafes because that was the only answer to that.”
After visiting a few businesses, the couple started to jokingly take notes about what they would do differently in their own cafe.
Eventually those jokes turned serious and Turquoise Goat was born.