Who We Are

Here at The Rook Room, we’re many things. We’re game geeks. We’re fans of good beer and good times and good friends. We’re passionate about our Des Moines community and making it a more fun-filled place for everyone.

Meet the two board-brains behind The Rook Room, Annelise and Tony!

Annelise Tarnowski, Owner

Annelise Tarnowski is the co-owner of The Rook Room and was hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration while hanging out with Tony (see below).

Annelise is passionate about community-building, whether it’s recruiting volunteers or bringing friends together for a game night.

A Twin Cities native, Annelise came to Des Moines to study journalism and sociology at Drake University and fell head-over-heels in love with Des Moines. Over the years she has worked for non-profits of all kinds in the Des Moines area doing everything from building volunteer programs, to writing grants, to filling in as a bar-back at art shows.

Outside of work you can find her planning her next National Parks trip, hanging with her dog, or fitting in a quick round of Spades.

Favorite Game:  Scythe

Favorite D&D Class: Wizard

Favorite Fandom: The McElroy Family


Tony Tandeski, Owner

Tony Tandeski is the co-owner of The Rook Room and hatched the idea of a board game business with his great friend, Annelise (see above).

He’s a former journalist turned digital marketer with a talent for SEO, data, user experience, and branding.

A native Iowan, he attended Drake University. He moved away for a few years, but couldn’t resist the pull of Des Moines, moved back, and loves being a Beaverdale resident.

When he’s not working or volunteering (you might have seen him on stage with a local theatre), he loves nothing more than game night with friends. If that involves a good local beer and snacks, all the better!

Favorite Game:  Betrayal at House on the Hill

Favorite D&D Class: Druid

Favorite Fandom: Star Wars

Our Mission

You belong here. We encourage you to pull up a seat, try something new, and make lasting memories. We create opportunities to come together, explore, and play in a fun, comfortable, and inclusive space. With us, you play your way – no matter who you are.


Our Vision

We believe that our time is best spent doing what we love with the people we care about. That’s why we’re breaking down barriers that limit accessibility while working to strengthen communities that allow everyone the chance to play as their whole self. Through the power of play, we want to make a more remarkable world through environmentally sustainable practices and philanthropic initiatives aimed at creating meaningful change for generations to come.


Our Core Values

Be Who You Are, Completely

When you’re with us, we want you to be exactly who you are. Regardless of what you like to play, eat, drink, or do, we are a safe space where you can feel comfortable trying new things, meeting new people, and being your whole self.

Increase Accessibility

Games are for everyone and nobody should be left out of the fun. That’s why we’re working hard to both improve access for players with disabilities and also eliminate financial barriers that may limit who can play.

Make It Memorable

Whether you’re at one of our unique, one-of-a-kind events or spending the day playing your favorite game with friends, we want to help you create unforgettable memories. Our goal is to always exceed your expectations.

Give Back

We wouldn’t exist without you – our game-loving neighbors and fellow earthlings. So we promise to give back locally and think globally.

Live in the Moment

We created our space as a place for people to gather together with family, friends, and even friends-to-be. We encourage everyone to set aside their devices and focus on having fun at the table.