La Chaux-de-Fonds: the chess game of two play bars

The announced opening of the Amuse Bar did not go smoothly in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The playable project by three board game fans who are friends is getting a patina. The public inquiry, which took place this spring, resulted in two objections: one from the reset bar, another playbar less than a minute’s walk from the prospective facility, and the second from the association that owns the premises. “The main thing I took issue with was the question of the location of this new game bar,” explains Caryl Zeender, the owner of the reset bar. “It seems to me that there are enough empty premises in the city to avoid opening another playbar near mine,” adds the one who started his activity in small steps during the Covid. However, Caryl Zeender also regrets a lack of communication with the organizers of the Amuse Bar. “I have waited until the end of the public inquiry to send my opposition, hoping to have a meeting with them to establish a concrete partnership, and not just a discussion over a drink,” says the one who also has around a hundred board games on its shelves.

The amuse bar keeps its ambitions

On the Amuse Bar side, which is across the block, is Grimace Soup. “We found out belatedly that our premises, the former reception café of the Hotel Club, still needed a new task. We had bad information from the owners,” explains Vanessa Thomann. And the hope of not opening the bar until spring and then in summer has evaporated. Vanessa Thomann also commented on the neighboring games pub: “We were supposed to meet to form a partnership, but we didn’t have time for it. On the other hand, the citizen survey suggested several dates for a meeting at the reset bar. I would like to add that we are complementary. We never wanted to play video games, play billiards or even put up darts and pinball machines,” specifies one of the initiators of the Amuse Bar. At this point, moving the bar to another location is not a solution. “Our bar needs to be sufficiently centered to not only attract players but also other customers who come to have a drink and eat. And then there’s the financial aspect: terminating a commercial lease we just signed would be very expensive, as would taking over another facility’s business,” she argues. At best, the opening of the Amuse Bar will be postponed to the end of the year. The city will decide on the objection in the coming weeks. As for the construction of the bar, it’s just waiting for a signature to begin.

Ludesco will wait to expand

This also has consequences for Ludesco, a flagship event for games of all kinds, which makes its thousand board games available at the Amuse Bar against loan from the house ad hoc all year round and during the festival. The event will not settle there this year for the edition planned for September, just as it will not invest the reset bar as expected to put everyone on an equal footing. A meeting was scheduled between the three parties, but it was cancelled. “One of the objectives of Ludesco, written in its statutes, is to work on the development of the game in La Chaux-de-Fonds,” remembers the event’s president, Thomas Junod. “I can only hope that the two institutions can find common ground and be open for our next edition in the usual format in March 2023.” Because behind these communication problems between different parties lies Ludesco’s desire: the desire, the ultimate creation to see a gambling district around the Maison du Peuple in collaboration with merchants. The die is cast. /re

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