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Dice and Decks Café in Downham Market

Board game café helps builds friendships and strengthens bonds in the community

On Saturday 11 January Downham Market saw the launch of a new community run board game and ‘freakshake’ café (Dice and Decks). Sarah Molyneux-Hetherington explains what inspired the café, the concept and what it brings to the community.

What inspired you to set up a board game and ‘freakshake’ café?

It came about from my own personal love of board games. I love how friendships get made and strengthened by playing games together. It was something I missed when I moved to Downham Market and as I invited different people over to play games I started to realise that this was something that would benefit Downham Market: somewhere open on a Saturday night that didn’t break the bank; that allowed family and friendship groups to strengthen; and provided some real treats in the form of food and drink, hence the ‘freakshakes’ and  ‘veganshakes’, as well as our popular sweet jars and pretzels & Nutella.

Why board games?

I think there's something really lovely about engaging with one another around a table and many of my fondest memories come from game evenings. There’s something really special about playing together, we see it in sports clubs and Downham Market benefits from a wide range of such clubs, but there wasn’t a space in Downham Market or in the surrounding area to play board games and engage in play in this more relaxed manner.

What is a freakshake?

A freakshake is a mix between a milkshake and a sundae.

What type of board games and why?

We have opted for a mix of games, which we have categorised into three categories:

Family Friendly - by which we mean open to player 8 and above, and fairly easy to pick up;

Party Games – shorter games with less strategy and more silliness;

Experienced – games which rely on some board game experience to make sense of.  

We have opted for new games, rather than the classics of monopoly, scrabble, etc. Although we have a few classics knocking about. The games then range in the number of players, length of game, complexity, and category from deck builders, civilisation expansion, co-operative games, strategy, dice-based, etc…

How did the first night go?

Opening night was just brilliant, we had a steady buzz the whole night and there was a lovely mix of different groups. It was great to meet other board game lovers and convert a few board game sceptics! It was really special to see the beginning of a new community forming and to be able to give people a lovely evening together. We had a few make reservations for next week and we are nearly booked up already which is surprising seeing as we expected mostly walk-ins!

Where did you advertise?

We advertised exclusively on Facebook, utilising voting competitions and sharing on local Facebook groups. This then attracted a local journalist which then meant we were advertised online via their website.

What does starting something new in the community bring to both you and those around you?

Starting something new against a backdrop of a wide variety of social groups in Downham Market allows us to create a space for people to make their own. The demographics of our town are changing which means somewhat inevitably there are some who don’t feel ownership of their town and/or feel it’s their home yet. Starting something new allows an opportunity for people to become known and to gain some sort of connection with their town; to form links with other people and to create a community. We all need somewhere to belong.  For me personally, I get to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet and that is always a great joy!

Written, with thanks, by Sarah Molyneux-Hetherington (Lay Pioneer in Downham Market)

To find out more about Dice and Decks and to keep up to date follow the Facebook page.

If you have further questions or would like to know more you can contact Sarah by email at

You can read two news items that the café is mentioned in below:

Cambridge Live: Exciting new places set to open in Cambriddgeshire in 2020

Eastern Daily Press: Board game and 'freakshake' café set to open

As a Diocese we love to hear about the various activities happening in your parishes and communities. Eleanor, our Digital Evangelism Manager, is available to assist you with sharing things online and also really enjoys hearing your stories, so please do not hesitate to share your parish stories or events with her by email or get in touch if you have any queries -


Page last updated: Monday 20th January 2020 3:09 PM
First published on: 20th January 2020
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