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Games Inn in Hobart opened the Dark Ground Cafe, a new dining option downtown that will soon start serving ramen noodle dishes that have become trendy in Chicago and other big cities.

The popular board game store at 301 Center Street, which attracts as many as 300 people on busy nights, wanted to give patrons who can camp out there for a few hours something to eat. The cafe, which can seat as many as 100, is now serving coffee, smoothies, soups, sandwiches, pizzas and calzones that are baked in-house.

"We don't do any deep-frying. We want it to be a healthy option," said Nicki Jackson who owns the store along with her husband David. "It's comfort food. Our most popular items are roast beef, grilled cheese and turkey avocado Swiss."

Games Inn, which opened four years ago and now occupies a 107-year-old building that has been a car dealership, furniture store and a gym, grew its staff from two to nine employees with the addition. The store also expanded by adding a comic book section with more than 100 titles, including indie work by local artists like Dan Dougherty.

David Jackson's parents had a board game shop previously. Jackson and his wife decided to open Games Inn because when they wanted to locate a separate online business downtown, city officials wanted some sort of retail component. It was originally called Mr. Sweets Games & Candy, but they changed the name when they moved into their current spot, a 4,500-square-foot space on the first floor of a two-story building that looks like an Old World European inn and that was most recently home to Jim McGee's Health Club.

"We want to emphasize it was a games store where people could play Dungeons and Dragons and hang out," Nicki Jackson said.

The core business is selling board games and collectibles, as well as drinks and candy on game nights whose participants range in age between 2 and 70 years old, but who are mostly young adults. Games Inn has a library of more than 450 board games that anyone can come in and play without charge.

"It's a happy, friendly environment for families," Nicki Jackson said. "If you've got three or four kids, you have to spend at least $50 to do something together. Here you can come in and just buy a few fountain drinks and not spent a fortune."

The new Dark Ground Cafe is adding a new range of creative drink options, such as a Bulletproof, a coffee drink with coconut oil, grassfed butter and whipping cream as an appetite suppressant and to sustain mental acuity during long gaming sessions.

They also have drinks of the week, such as a nutty chocolate hazelnut latte that tastes like Nutella. There's even a Star Wars-themed "Light Side of the Force/Dark Side of the Force" peppermint mocha that is made with either white or regular chocolate, depending on whether the customer identifies more with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader.

The cafe plans to deliver food throughout the downtown area and add a breakfast menu and ramen bowls soon.

Both Dark Ground Cafe and Games Inn are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Saturday, when it's open from 7 a.m. 11 p.m.

For more information, call 219-940-3289 or visit www.facebook.com/GamesInnLLC/.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.