June 26, 2022

Newton native who moved to Big Apple opens business

Greg May, a Newton native, is taking a tiny bite out of the Big Apple.

May is opening a board game cafe called Uncommons in New York City which is, according to him, one of the first businesses of this type in the nation. Uncommons will offer more than 100 different types of board games to play and people’s favorite caffeinated beverages while they play.

Games May said they will offer chess and Monopoly but also new games like Apples to Apples and Settlers of Catan. May’s location is close to New York University and he said he wants to draw in the college crowd since they’re sandwiched between two dorms.

“Throughout the day, and especially in the evening, we hope to attract the students from NYU and other colleges to play board games in a setting they couldn’t easily replicate in their tiny apartments in New York City,” May said.

Opening a business in New York has been no easy task, May said, mostly because of bureaucratic hurdles. One portion requires a constant and cumbersome grading system from the department of health.

He also said, unlike in Newton, it’s not easy to go to a Home Depot, make purchases and then take your purchases into the building. In New York, not only is everything more expensive but transporting the items to the final location can be difficult. He said he’s circled the block several times looking for a close parking space just to get tools into the building.

Looking for the right location was no easy task either. May said he spent months looking for an affordable space and finally found one. The current space used to be the village’s chess club, which was open for 40 years and was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Uncommons, which will have chess boards, plans on having hundreds of other board games as well.

May said he’s lived in New York for two years and was driven to the Big Apple because he wanted to live in one of the best cities in the world.

“It’s the sort of thing maybe everyone should do at least once in their life,” May said.

May’s no stranger to the big city. He said he’s lived in Hawaii, China and San Diego but said living in New York has always been a dream.

May said he plans to open Uncommons on Oct. 15. He currently has a website and a kickstarter page.

May encourages Newtonians who visit New York to make a trip to his shop as well.

“We plan on offering a really comfortable atmosphere,” May said. “New York can be an exhausting city. Just ask my mom.”

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at dhon@newtondailynews.com.