Get your fix – for coffee or games

Fibo Quantum

HAMDEN — A gaming club previously operated out of a church is entering a new chapter as its founder and his business partner get ready to open a cafe that will offer specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Their goal, according to co-owner David Letourneau, is to open a space that has “something for everybody,” whether it’s a cup of coffee and Wi-Fi, a chess game at a cafe table or space in a private room to play Dungeons & Dragons.

The store, Unison Games Cafe, has a front end where the coffee shop is located, as well as several private gaming rooms patrons will be able to rent, Letourneau said.

Co-owner David Letourneau at Unison Games Cafe, to open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Meghan Friedmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

The business developed out of a gaming club Michael Shawn Carbaugh founded several years ago.

Carbaugh’s love of trading card games, especially Pokemon, flourished in college. After graduating in 2017, he was looking to play regularly, he said, but the closest store running Pokemon games was in Newington.

A pastor at Pond Hill Baptist Church in North Haven, Carbaugh came up with a solution: he used the church hall as a gathering space and launched Unison Games.

By early 2020, he knew he wanted to transform the initiative into a full-fledged business, he said. Letourneau, a friend he knew through the gaming community, also was looking for his next project.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Meghan Friedmann / Hearst Connecticut Media /

The two teamed up in August, according to Carbaugh, who said they started running weekly tournaments – masked and distanced, given the pandemic.

By spring 2021, the pair had found a spot to lease on northern Whitney Avenue.

They got to work transforming the space. While the gaming rooms are now usable, the coffee shop still is in progress, Letourneau said Tuesday.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Meghan Friedmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

There’s one feature of the business the owners are particularly excited about: a library of more than 100 games (mostly board games) that customers will be able to rent and take home.

If a patron likes a game, they can pay another installment to buy it at a discounted price, Letourneau said.

If not, they return it. If the game had been brand new, the price of the now-used game is discounted further for the next user, he said.

The library is meant to address a problem gamers face: products often are expensive, with many games costing upward of $60 or $70. Games that are out of print or have many components can cost much more.

Often, customers don’t want to invest money in a game before they know whether they’ll like it, according to Letourneau, who said the problem plagues vendors, as well.

“We’ve got a couple groups that are … gonna treat (the library) like Redbox,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s novel, and I think it’s something that alleviates a lot of the biggest problems.”

But it’s not just about gaming for Letourneau and Carbaugh.

Letourneau, who said the coffee shop plans to feature local products, hopes the cafe becomes a community “hub.”

“I feel like there’s a lot of things that separate people and one of the things we wanna do at Unison Games Cafe is inclusive,” Carbaugh said.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Unison Games Cafe will open in Hamden with specialty coffee, local baked goods and plenty of games.

Meghan Friedmann / Hearst Connecticut Media /

Already, a community has grown around Unison Games and seems ready to migrate to the cafe.