Short on space but with a big interest in tabletop gaming, Sarah Reuter and Marshall Tyers took matters into their own hands earlier this year when they opened Owlbear Cafe, making sure they always had room for games with friends.
“We are big Dungeons & Dragons people, and we were always looking for a place to play because a lot of us didn’t have the space at our houses to accommodate the big table,” Tyers said. “So we decided to create the space we wanted to see.”
Owlbear opened in Mount Pleasant’s Shoppes at Seaside Farms development about four months ago.
The cafe’s namesake comes from the game they love. An owlbear is a creature originally created for Dungeons & Dragons in 1975 — a cross between, you guessed it, an owl and a bear.
The investment to get started with Dungeons & Dragons or other games can be significant. But at Owlbear, customers have the chance to try out games before they buy them.
The café is welcome for any type of player — experienced and novice, young and old, group play and one-on-one.
“We have games for everyone. We have kids games, we have group games, we have solo games, party games, even some first-date games,” Reuter said. “It’s a great way to connect.”
In addition to creating a space where people can connect over games, it had been Reuter’s dream to open a coffee shop since she worked as a barista in college.
“I didn’t have the money right out of college, so I went into accounting and stuck with it for a little over 10 years,” Reuter said. “Once we thought this might happen, in my spare time outside of accounting, I started working in events and worked as a barista at a local coffee shop on the weekends to get my feet wet.”
Reuter brought her growing interest in coffee and Tyers brought years of experience working as a chef in the Charleston area at Vintage Café and The Obstinate Daughter.
All of Owlbear’s coffee drinks are made with Springbok Coffee Roasters and all syrups are made in-house. The rose cardamom latte and the Gold Dragon Latte are two of the couple’s favorites.
“The inspiration for the rose cardamom latte came from a coffee shop in Greenville and the Gold Dragon has ginger, turmeric and cinnamon in it,” Reuter said.
But since it is fall, Owlbear also offers pumpkin spice lattes, made with house-made pumpkin spice syrup.
To go with the coffee, Owlbear serves breakfast and lunch dishes that are accessible, presented in new and creative ways.
“We’ve got your staples like the breakfast sandwich and avocado toast, but instead of scrambled or fried egg, we do an herbed frittata every morning which we garnish with housemade garlic aioli and fresh-tossed arugula,” Tyers said.
Other popular items include the grilled cheese and chicken salad sandwich, served on bread from North Charleston’s EVO Bakery. Local beer and other drinks are also available.
“We care a lot about supporting our community because we love it here, and this is our home,” the couple said. “This is the place that we love, so we try to give back as well. We work with Burnt & Salty sauces, and they make a great Korean mustard that we love, we offer only local kombuchas, and we try to stay local with our beers.”
Owlbear also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items for those with dietary restrictions.
They offer free WiFi for customers and serve a lot of remote workers and regulars during the week.
“We have really great repeat customers and regulars,” Reuter said. “The community has been really receptive and supportive and it’s great to be able to provide that personal experience.”
As one of two board game cafes in the area — Game Night Charleston also recently opened in Park Circle — the couple wants to remain a go-to hangout for locals looking for something different.
“We don’t want to be a bar — we want to be family-friendly and have that café vibe of back in the day when it wasn’t just in and out,” Reuter said. “We want you to sit and stay.”
The first Wednesday of every month is D&D night, and the last Wednesday is open mic night at Owlbear. Keep an eye on @owlbearcafe on Instagram for updates on special events.