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Cafe rings in the New Year, wizard style

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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Groups gather in the House Rules Cafe in Hudson to play board games for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media Floating candles from Harry Potter, made by House Rules Cafe owner Kathleen Miller, hang in the window of the Columbia Street business.
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    Daniel Zuckerman/Columbia-Greene Media House Rules Cafe owner Kathleen Miller makes a wand during a Harry Potter-themed New Year’s Eve celebration.
January 1, 2018 12:15 am

HUDSON — Wizards and muggles alike were invited to the House Rules Cafe in Hudson on Sunday for a Harry Potter-themed New Year’s Eve celebration.

The cafe’s event was the culmination of a month-long celebration of the wildly successful book series and movie franchise created by author J.K. Rowling. The cafe screened all eight films in the franchise and visitors at the celebration had the opportunity to make their own wands, the cafe’s owner, Kathleen Miller, said. The inspiration for the month-long celebration came after Miller found a tutorial on how to make floating candles, which are prominently featured in the series’ Great Hall at Hogwarts Castle.

“December is kind of perfect for Harry Potter because it’s a world that’s filled with so much sparkle,” Miller said as she was making a wand. “There’s so much about it that’s appropriate for the holiday season.”

Miller is a fan of the Harry Potter series, as she is part of the generation that grew up with the books and movies. To fit in with the theme, Miller and her staff developed treats based on food and drinks from the series including a Butterbeer cocoa and cauldron cakes.

“For me it’s always been part of what I’ve done,” Miller said of the series. “I’m a book geek, I’m a collector, I’m all of that and Harry Potter fits in with all of that because there’s just so much to explore.”

There was a steady crowd of people who came to the two-hour event, which started at 5 p.m., but Miller was anticipating that more people would stop in towards the event’s end.

“We’ve had a lot of interest, a lot of people calling,” Miller said. “Honestly, even just that is great because it means people have seen us and see that we exist.”

People can come and play the cafe’s board games for a small fee, which Miller said covers the wear and tear of the games and because there is low turnover due to the nature of the business. Visitors are welcome to bring their own games.

“We’re an odd business concept in a town full of odd business concepts,” Miller said. “We get groups of serious gamers in on a regular basis.”

Miller said her business offers anyone a chance to play different varieties of board games.

“This isn’t just Apples to Apples, it’s not just Cards Against Humanity. There’s a huge range of board games out there,” she said. “The board game industry in general is extremely male driven, so I’m trying to change up the house rules on that.”

The cafe, which opened in May, received its beer and wine license Friday and to coincide with that Miller wants to add a dinner menu.

“We’ve been trying to find our niche in terms of the food, because again Hudson is a foodie town,” she said. “I’ve most recently come out of the wine industry, so I can guarantee the list will be interesting, inexpensive and really, really easy to understand.”

Rashonda Smith, of Hudson, brought her two daughters and their friend to play some board games because they are all big Harry Potter fans.

“Our cat’s name is Mrs. McGonagall,” she said referencing the character portrayed on screen by Dame Maggie Smith.

Rashonda Smith had been meaning to check out the cafe for some time and said this is the first time she has visited a restaurant where one can play board games.

“Now that we’re here, it’s a fun space that’s kid friendly,” she said of the cafe.

Rokeya Sultana, of Hudson, never visited the cafe before but came for the New Year’s Eve event with her friends because they are all Harry Potter fans. Sultana heard about it on her Facebook feed.

“Their collection of games is very impressive,” Sultana said. “This is a nice hangout spot.”

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman, email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.