A group of friends enjoy a round of Cards Against Humanities while eating pizza & cheese sticks. Slice & Dice is a popular hangout spot among Rio Rancho and Westside ABQ locals. (Daniel Zuniga/For the Observer)
Games are a great way to bring people together — Mercedes Donio
Slice and Dice Pizzeria serves up a unique combination of pies, local craft beer – and board games.
And for those who don’t know how, they will teach you any of the games.
It’s an odd mix. But so far, it works.
Slice and Dice owners Mercedes Donio and Victor Briseno want to share their passion for board games with customers. But they get that learning new games can be intimidating.
So, the restaurant employs ‘Game Guides’ to make the learning process as smooth as possible. One of those game guides is Tamara Shope.
“It’s daunting to look at 350 games at once, and realize that you only maybe heard of two of them… like Jenga,” Shope said.
Before becoming an employee, Shope was a regular customer. The job checked off all her boxes and she decided it was the move to make, she said.
“I wanted to do something fun, nerdy, and I simply love it,” Shope said. “My job is to help people have fun.”
The restaurant offers board games as an activity for customers to engage with each other. It also cuts down on the cell phone use.
“People are never really on their phones when they’re here, they’re connecting with each other which is very cool and rare,” Shope said.
Slice and Dice has become a popular hangout spot for first dates, family nights and game nights.
“A group of women will come in and play a game that they know, and learn a new game,” Shope said. “It’s really fun to see these older women, all in their 70s, learning new things, and challenging themselves.”
The owners also wanted to give back to the people who have supported them on the way.
“Every month we do a charity pizza of the month,” Briseno said. “Local charities, local organizations help us design a special pizza recipe for that month, and 10% of those sales go to that charity or organization.”
The owners also make a strong effort to support their employees by giving them health benefits, paid time off, and other prime benefits.
“Restaurants don’t always have the best reputation as places to work, and we try really hard to take care of all our staff, “Donio said.
Before Slice and Dice opened, Donio and Briseno would regularly bring board games to their favorite eating places. This hobby inspired the business model for their restaurant.
“For fun we would go out to our favorite restaurants, breweries, and take our own games with us,” Briseno said. “We wanted a place where people could play games, eat food and drink local craft beer.”
Donio and Briseno took everything that they loved, and turned it into a business.
“Games are a great way to bring people together,” Donio said.