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.

Scroll down to learn more about us, our mission, core values, and our promise to you in everything we do!

Meet Annelise

Name: Annelise Tarnowski

Role: Owner

Hometown: New Hope, Minnesota

School: Drake University

Full-Time Job: Iowa Public Radio

Organizations: Drake Neighborhood Association Board

Favorite Game:  Scythe

Favorite D&D Class: Wizard

Number of Puzzle Pieces: 500

Favorite Fandom: Futurama

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 works full-time at Iowa Public Radio on the membership team. She 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. She also volunteers on the Drake Neighborhood Association board.

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

Meet Tony

Name: Tony Tandeski

Role: Owner

Hometown: Eldridge, Iowa

School: Drake University

Full-Time Job: DHI Group, Inc.

Organizations: Drake University Central Iowa Regional Alumni Board, Drake University LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, Beaverdale Fall Festival Board

Favorite Game:  Wingspan

Favorite D&D Class: Druid

Number of Puzzle Pieces: 1000

Favorite Fandom: Star Wars

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

He’s a former journalist turned digital marketer with a talent for SEO, data, user experience, and branding. He uses those talents while working full-time at DHI Group, Inc. as the Data Analytics & SEO Manager.

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.

He’s constantly running around while serving on three community boards and volunteering with countless others. He was recently honored as part of the 2023 class of the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40.

When he’s not working or volunteering, you can usually find him riding his bike, hanging out with his dog Chace, relaxing at a coffee shop, traveling the world, or having a game night with friends.

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.

LGBTQ+ Equality & Inclusion Promise

As a fully LGBTQ-owned business, The Room Room stands with our LGBTQ+ community in the fight for equal treatment and inclusion while standing in the face of hateful and divisive legislation and practices. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live a full life as their true and authentic selves. We promise to hold all employees, volunteers, vendors, contributors, and players to our Code of Conduct, especially in respecting all people regardless of sexual identity, gender identity, and expression of self.

We promise to do our best to support LGBTQ+ creators, designers, artists, writers, publishers, and others within the gaming industry while refusing to work with or support any individuals or businesses not aligning with our stance or with practices that are counter to the progression of LGBTQ+ rights, equality, and inclusion. Additionally, we vow to use our platform to push for positive changes that support LGBTQ+ individuals within our community, state, and country when and where we can. The Rook Room is a place to play for everyone.

Environmental Impact & Sustainability Promise

At The Rook Room, we believe in making the world a better place than we found it – especially when it comes to the environment and our natural resources. That’s why we promise to do everything we can to develop sustainable practices; choose environmentally friendly, renewable, and recyclable materials and packaging; reduce and offset our carbon footprint; and work with organizations focused on improving the natural world around us.

We are also using our platform to push for broad changes within the industry to reduce the use of plastics, switch to renewable materials, and educate through play wherever possible. We only have one planet and very limited time to make meaningful, sustainable change and we promise to be a part of that change whenever and where we can.