The Raven's Nest


When I look back on 2017, I can’t deny it was a pain in the buttocks. However, other than keeping the little family alive, I need to take a moment and talk about The Raven’s Nest.

My partner (also ex-husband) and I talked about opening something like The Raven’s Nest for a very long time. We gave this idea to many people who have the means to open such a place, but no one was interested. We didn’t ask for a partnership, we just wanted someone to open the place. In the end we decided to start it up ourselves. Only because it’s a place WE wanted to hang out in. It had to be a place that felt like a home; warm, inviting, cozy and had to be decorated with things we loved. If you’ve been to The Raven’s Nest, I’m sure it’s pretty obvious what type of people him and I are.

The journey started in December 2016. It took us 10 months for the project to see the light. So many complications when it came to opening the first official board game café in Bahrain. Don’t get me wrong, we know there are other cafes on the island that serve coffee, snacks and do have a board game shelf. But what we had in mind was actually getting the license under “board game café” not to mention keep the décor and interior within a specific level of geekiness only us bookworms and geeks would appreciate.

The struggle was real. It was so tough. The lack of education when it came to what board games and tabletop games were, hurt us. We couldn’t even find a loophole. I was asked from every single governmental entity I visited questions like:

• who would leave their house to play chess?

• who would want to read a used book?

• who still reads? Everyone is on his or her phones.

• are there that many board games to open a place like that?

• no one plays board games in Bahrain. Just get Monopoly?

• won’t that lead to gambling?

The list goes on and on. I kid you not.

I was born and raised here, I never ever imagined that opening such a place in Bahrain would be a hassle. Forget the logistics. The lack of support from Governmental Officials who heard the idea was enough to discourage and drain us. We thought it would never happen.

Our stubbornness paid off obviously. My friends heard my complaints on a daily basis.. The project was very personal to them. If they weren't my rock, I don't think I would have been able to go through with it.

We marched through the sand storm and got the job done eventually. Honestly, I still don't believe it!!!

Building the place from the concrete up wasn’t a problem to us. It was a lot of fun and we were looking forward to it. The project was finally coming together after 8 months of paperwork and fight.

We knew exactly what the place was going to look like and where everything was going to go. We hand picked the furniture. 80% of the pieces we have are antiques. We have a couch, which is 80 years old. We got amazing carpenters to customize the Dungeons & Dragons table, the counter, the board game case and our famous log bookcase, we woulnd't have done it without them really (no we wont tell you who they are. They are our little secret). Our beautiful chimney was built in front of our eyes as well. We hand painted and wore out the walls ourselves. The pictures and artworks on the walls were either digitally painted by Sergio or picked and printed by me (our son helped pick the frames too).

Today, Jan 1st 2018, The Raven’s Nest is officially 2 months old. This beautiful small project has filled up our lives in many ways. The most rewarding thing is that The Raven’s Nest has found its way into becoming a nest for likeminded people who appreciate the same silly things we do.

So far we hosted our first Open Mic Night and our first HearthStone Gathering. We thank the organizers for choosing us. We are very humbled.

We succeeded in making the place a home for so many people who are slowly becoming family. These unique individuals treat The Raven’s Nest as if it were their own baby; they actually ask us if we need help around the shop. They do not feel as they are customers, they are part of the family. They know who they are. That’s what we love the most about this whole journey! It’s so personal to many people that it is now our duty to make sure that this little place thrives in 2018 and continues to house all us weirdos for many years to come.

From the bottom of our hearts,

We thank you for loving the place as much as we do.

Mirna x

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© 2020 by Mirna Suhail Almaz

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