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14 Jun 2023

Business Love Stories – Dice & a Slice

Jessica’s journey began fuelled by her love for board games leading her to create a space that not only connected like-minded board gamers but also served as a gateway for newcomers to explore the world of board gaming.

Once you step inside the welcoming doors of Dice and a Slice, you’ll be greeted by a vast array of over 800 board games, something for everyone’s taste. Accompanying this impressive collection are tantalizing food and drink options that will satisfy even the most discerning palate. Even if board gaming doesn’t initially pique your interest, Jessica and her dedicated team extend a warm invitation for you to enjoy a meal or indulge in a comforting cup of coffee, immersing yourself in the enchanting atmosphere they have crafted and let the worries of the outside world fade away.

So, let’s roll the dice, pass go, and discover the valuable insights shared by Jessica as she recounts her #businesslovestory.

What made you set up on your own?

“As a family we love board games, and this love grew into not just a passion for playing but also for collecting and over the space of a year we had grown our collection of games to over 200. Combining our collective passions for board gaming and my husband’s dream of wanting to run his own restaurant/café led to the creation of our business, Dice & a Slice.”

Can you remember the moment you decided?

“The seeds of our idea were sown during a visit to a Brewers Fayre while our son was attending Explorers, a scout like group, just a 20-minute drive from our home. Instead of dropping him off and returning, we decided it made more sense to find a place nearby where we could wait, enjoy a cup of coffee, and play one of our many board games.  During this time, we contemplated the concept of a venue where people could socialise, eat and drink while having access to a selection of board games, an idea that seemed novel to us in late 2016 early 2017. Our contemplation turned to curiosity and after researching discovered a handful of similar businesses in Canada as well as a small number in the UK. Encourage by this we toyed with the idea and after a conversation with a friend from the local tennis club identified a potential venue had become available. In late 2017 we took the plunge and initiate a trial run of our board game café Dice & a Slice, which eventually paved the way for our formal launch in 2018.”

How would you describe your relationship with your business right now?

“At the beginning achieving the work life balance was hard given the considerable time dedicated to setting up the café, preparing the menu, organising the board games, and arranging the tea, coffee, and drinks. However, as we have become an established business and built an amazing team, I have gradually transitioned into more of a behind-the-scenes role, allowing me to step back and strike a better balance between work and personal life.”

When was it at its worst? What was happening for you then?

“The period during Covid proved to be incredibly challenging for us, and we found ourselves grappling with the thought of giving up. It was a difficult time as we were still obligated to pay half the rent and financially, we took a massive hit. Rebuilding our business to its current level required a significant amount of time and effort. Even as the lockdown measures gradually eased, we faced another obstacle. People remained hesitant and lacked the confidence to return in the numbers we had previously seen, the lingering consequences of the pandemic had a lasting effect on customer behaviour and preferences.”

What advice would you give to another owner who’s feeling disillusioned?

“Generating fresh idea is crucial to promote and distinguish your business such as hosting events to engage with customers and gain their feedback and if needed make changes. We have even revamped our menu, regularly experimenting with new options, and replacing items that are not resonating with customers. Notably our Shmoo milkshakes are proving very popular. In addition to innovation, we prioritise ethical processes and sustainability, collaborating with suppliers like Origin Coffee in Cornwall, we ensure our ingredients and products adhere to ethical standards. Furthermore, we continually explore methods to minimise waste, demonstrating our commitment to responsible business practices."

What keeps you connected to why you started your business in the first place?

“Oh, the customers and staff, the heart of our business, united by the shared love for games. Some customers walk through our doors, eager to explore new gaming experiences, but unsure where to begin. I find joy in spending time with them, teaching them the rules and seeing them fully enjoyed and immersed in the games brings me great satisfaction. We cater for a diverse range of customers, spanning 3 – 93 years of age. Whether it’s a refreshing drink from our licensed bar or a delicious cup of coffee, our café offers a relaxed environment where friends and family can come together, creating memories.”

Would you say you love your business?

“I do love what we have accomplished and I take great pride in it. One of the highlights is our weekly social event, where enthusiast come together to connect with fellow game lovers. Whether you arrive with a group of friends or venture solo, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. A couple who met at one of these events are now on the path to marriage, it great to witness how our events foster not only shared interests but also meaningful connections. In addition to our monthly social event, we also host a weekly gathering, ideal for newcomers to the area providing the opportunity to meet locals, make new friendships and bond over the joy of board games.”

What do you love about working for yourself?

“Having the freedom to set my own working hours and make final decisions. However, the true satisfaction comes from the positive feedback we receive from our valued customers. you get a real glow when you hear you are doing a great job. I would also like to take this moment to acknowledge our daughter Annabel Hutton who, from the very dawn of the business, up until last December, was our exceptional Café Manager, she was in a bit of a crossroads in her career in 2017 so my husband and I started it up with her as the full time Café Manager which she continued up until Rob took over in December last year. She completely taught herself all there was to know about running a café and worked so diligently through our menu’s various iterations and has been fastidious in ensuring the café ticks every box that it should do in regards implementing cleanliness, food hygiene and allergy awareness, administration, correct employment training strategies, setting up relationships with suppliers etc. so she was responsible for setting the groundwork for where we are today.”

How seasonal is our business?

“Our business follows a seasonal pattern, with the upcoming months leading to a quieter period from now until late July. It’s understandable because when its lovely weather people want to go outside and do outdoorsy things, although we are lucky to have a beautiful outdoor courtyard. Autumn and winter are great months for us with people taking shelter from the winter weather and the school holidays provide opportunities for families to do something different when they can’t visit the beach every day and provides much needed shade and respite from the heat on a hot summer’s day.”

We’re living in interesting times, what steps are you taking to ensure your future?

“Publicity and promoting our business are key aspects to attract new customers, we constantly explore new ways to expand our reach. Once crucial part of our marketing involves targeting university students as they form a significant part of our customer base. Promoting freshers in particular holds great importance to us as we have a strong presence among the student community. I would like to give credit to our manager, Robert Saunders, for his valuable contribution to this area. He has been an integral part of our team since 2019, always positive and a remarkable talent for creating great promotional ideas. He has developed a monthly newsletter using Mailchimp showcasing upcoming events and keeping customers informed though Facebook and Instagram. His dedication and creative flair have contributed immensely to our success and I am grateful for his continuous contributions.”

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