Annelise Tarnowski and Tony Tandeski

Co-Founders and Co-Owners at The Rook Room

Graduation years: 2015 (Annelise) and 2008 (Tony)

SJMC majors: Radio/TV Producing (Annelise) and Broadcast News (Tony)


What your business does: The Rook Room is a board game pop-up bringing unique board game, puzzle, and RPG events and experiences to the Des Moines area.

What inspired you to start your business: We frequently talked about how we wish there was an organization in town that could facilitate board game events and a space to play. The more we talked, the more we realized that we could be that organization. We want to help build a board game community with a focus on giving back to the community, collaborating with other local small businesses and organizations, and providing a space where anyone can feel comfortable to have fun.

How are you using what you learned in the SJMC in your job?

Annelise: I think that the SJMC helped me to learn rapport and how to make guests feel comfortable being themselves when they come to our space. I also learned how to be a clear communicator which has helped me in teaching new players of all kinds how to play games. We have also started building more video content which I can say without a doubt: I learned it all from Drake!

Tony: The broad application of the SJMC learning track has been immensely helpful not only with The Rook Room, but just in my career in general. My SJMC degree helped me with a career as an executive producer in broadcast news that eventually morphed into being a full-stack digital marketer in the marketing and advertising world. Those same skills transferred directly into allowing Annelise and I to start The Rook Room. Softer skills like great communication and writing, problem solving, working on deadlines, research and seeking out answers, building an audience, and creative thinking, and harder skills like video production, news and article writing, sound and lighting design, streaming production and broadcasting (especially in an increasingly Zoom-focused world), event management, and more.

More info: Due to the pandemic, we have been switching up parts of our mission to help connect people through games using technology. Once it is safe again, we do plan to re-open, but for now, we offer a lot of digital games, puzzles and trivia experiences! We also have been working with local artists to create puzzles over the last few months. Half of the profits go back to the artist, so please consider supporting two businesses this holiday season with a purchase of a puzzle!

Contact: Email us at, sign up for our newsletter on our website, contact us on our social channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, or call us at 515-216-4191.


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Phone: 515-271-3194

2805 University Avenue
Meredith Hall 118
Des Moines, Iowa 50311