Capital City Cork and Board becomes Jefferson City’s first board game pub.

When stepping into Capital City Cork and Board, you’ll notice the walls are adorned with an old Backgammon set, an early 1950s Batman basketball board game, a photo of singer Bob Dylan playing chess, and a framed portrait of the chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer.

When Cara and Adam Stark became full owners of the restaurant and bar this summer, they did a complete 180 from their work in fine dining and established Jefferson City’s first board game pub.  

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

Their inspiration was simple: design the business around something they know and love. For them, that was playing board games.

“We’re not really traditional bar people,” Cara says. “We love going somewhere where there’s a place you can be communicating with friends and have fun, but not necessarily be in that sports bar setting. We also saw, after being open for seven months, that Jefferson City has a lot of restaurant options, so we were wanting to change and put board games in the place, and it’s because we love to play board games!”

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

Cara and Adam set out to stock their first board game library and wound up with 150 games for a diverse group of players.

“There’s deck building, town building, collaborative, strategy, etcetera. And there’s variations of times it takes to play a game, so there’s something that appeals to everybody, including people who are very into intense board games,” Cara says.

Regardless of their busy schedules, the couple tries to fit in a game or two of chess every week. But among their entire collection, there is one game, in particular, they just can’t get enough of.  

“‘Catan’ is our favorite board game,” Adam says.

“Adam, three years in a row, had a ‘Settlers of Catan’ tournament for his birthday,” Cara adds. “At home, we actually have a big tournament board that one of his friends painted us, and it has brackets leading into the championship game.”

“We needed something that wasn’t as fine-dining oriented.”

-Adam Stark

Over time, Adam and Cara hope to collect as many games as they can with space constraints, though they’re wary of making the selection too overwhelming.  

“I don’t think Jeff City has the market for thousands of board games, but I think expanding our collection to 400 to 500 would be one of our goals,” Cara says.

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

To fit the new atmosphere, Cork and Board has a new menu, which is also available next door at Capital City Cinema

“We try to collaborate with the cinema as much as possible,” Adam says. “Last year, guests were able to decorate cookies with the Grinch while the movie was featured next door. We also like to do signature cocktails with whatever movie is playing.”

If you’re feeling a bit on the fancy side, the restaurant still has Cork classics such as charcuterie boards, paired to compliment your drink of choice, and their fried feta bites. However, if you’re looking to cure some classic comfort cravings, their selection does not disappoint.

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

Diving into their “dibbins” section of the menu, you’ll find dippable items like chicken strips, fish and chips, sweet potato fries, Tater Tots, and cheddar cauliflower bites. But what gives these fried delights their signature flavor is the six different housemade sauces. With Marshmallow Fluff, Carolina mustard bbq, yum yum, sriracha chili, honey mustard, and creamy jalapeño cilantro lime sauce, it’s hard to pick just one.

Next on the menu is the cheesy bites section. You can keep it light with baked Brie and jam or get really cheesy with the bacon grilled cheese, mozzarella sticks, and, Cara’s favorite, skillet mac ’n’ cheese.

“It’s my dream mac ’n’ cheese, is what it is,” Cara says.

Cara Stark, owner of Cork and Board
Cara Stark, owner of Cork and Board

Each order is made fresh and crafted with three different types of cheese. Unlike your traditional baked mac, this dish is cooked and served in a hot skillet, allowing the noodles to stay warm as you eat.

“I love mac ’n’ cheese. It’s like my staple food,” Cara explains. “We make it in the skillet every time and it comes out in the skillet, and I think that’s what people are really enjoying.” 

For the nights where you’re just looking to snack and keep your head in the game, Cara and Adam suggest taking advantage of Cork and Board’s nibble bowls. Pick your favorite or mix between chocolate, candy, peanut butter pretzels, and animal crackers. If you find yourself pondering which size to get, it’s worth splurging for the large bowl, as you’ll likely find yourself wanting more as you play.

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

“We’ve focused on being a full-service bar as well,” Adam says.

Now that the restaurant serves various spirits, you can find specialty cocktails named after some of their favorite board games. Their most popular beverages include Settlers of Catan, which is a Hemingway daiquiri; the Colonel Mustard, made like a bourbon smash; the Villainous, based off the Maleficent-inspired Disney board game of the same name; and the Candyland margarita, a cranberry margarita served with red liquorice and Skittles on top.   

Cork and Board in Jefferson City

For every day they’re open, the pub hosts a drink or game special, including a Saturday morning coffee and chess club. 

“What’s been really fun about the coffee and chess is that we’ve gotten some younger kids in who are really excited about games,” Cara says.

The weekly event also includes group lessons with a local chess coach, an hour of free play, and a specialty brunch item, such as Dutch puff pancakes.

The vision for Cork and Board is to pair delectable food and drinks with all the fun that board games have to offer. It’s hard to say which is the bigger draw.