0 items - $0.00

Why A Gaming Bar?

Back in 2011, I had just spent a grueling four hours betraying my friends for a flawless Cylon Victory (Battlestar Galactica, ruining friendships one crisis card at a time). Most nights I’d settle the score out on the town with a couple of drinks, but on that night my vanquished friends wanted revenge. We packed up a copy of Munchkin and went to the nearest place with beer on tap.

Pub is shorthand for “Public House,” and at a pub on a Friday night curious onlookers peek in on your game. It’s inevitable. Occasionally, someone will recognize Munchkin and grin; they ask who is winning, laugh knowingly at the ludicrous cards, and drift on. We revel in these visits. However, most bar-goers have no idea why you and your friends are laughing about fake headgear.

Onlookers unfamiliar with Munchkin ask questions, and we answer with reserved enthusiasm. All nerds tread cautiously when divulging their hobbies in public. It’s a learned survival mechanism known by anyone who has ever read comics on a playground. By day, my group consists of a law student, a public speaker, a government employee, an IT consultant, and an engineer. Even as adults some of our old childhood insecurities still linger in this bar over a board game. Most people don’t mind, but others ask questions with obvious bemusement. The waitress is baffled but kind (we drink as much as anyone). Despite her professionalism, we never feel truly “at home.”

Social pressure aside, there are more small, inevitable discomforts. The tables aren’t large enough for anything more than a casual game, the surface is rough hewn and sticky in spots (a sticky card is a ruined card in my book), and the lighting is too dim. Our server feels bad for interrupting (despite our protests… it’s only Munchkin!), and we feel bad for her feeling bad. Inevitably someone says, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had our own bar?” The ideas start pouring out: cup holders, custom lighting rigs, our dream table setups, servers who know and love games, food designed to be neatly eaten while we play. Why not have a collection of games we can play?! Why not have a bar for gamers?

Fast forward to present day. I have repeated this conversation with other friends in Texas over the years. It is a debilitating obsession for me.  I have visited other cities that have had success with this idea, I have designed my own board games, I have run pathfinder games at Dragon’s Lair and navigated the game display wall at Emerald Tavern, and I’ve picked up on a trend: nerds want to take the activities they enjoy out of their living rooms and make this a truly social activity. For me, the king of social places is the Public House.

Nerd-dom is going mainstream, and like other hobbyists (sports bars, anyone?) we want to meet others like us, talk fearlessly about what we love, and discover new ways to partake in our nerdiness. Strangely, my own living room looks like the bar I want to run: a kegerator with craft beer, an abundance of nerdy decor, and even an oversized, handmade table. I pitched the idea to anyone who would listen to me. (Editor’s note: and a few who wouldn’t. But here I am.)

And then, one day, everything just fell into place. Now it is Summer of 2015. Our team has been assembled: like minded individuals with a vision of redefining where and how people enjoy their beloved nerdy hobbies. We have logos, a website, table prototypes, designs for strange machines that go, “kachunk,” and (most importantly) you are reading this post.

We are thrilled to bring our vision to you, the same nerds we have identified with for years.  We want to create a place where you can host your next game night, or come get a beer and meet someone else who understands your love of Doctor Who references.  And we want YOU to tell us your vision as well.  We have tools for you to tell us what you want.  We are looking for people who are as passionate as us to become founding members. We are working around the clock to make our dream a reality.

But when the endless hours of planning and decision making seem overwhelming, I imagine myself in a bar, surrounded with awesome people who like to discuss superhero power levels as well as the best craft beers.

If you share my vision,  get involved. Don your cape, visit our ideas page and sign up for our mailing list (we promise not to spam you!)

We look forward to drinking nerding with you.



Preston Swincher



Categories: Blog

6 Responses

  1. chris allen says:

    The bar should have zones, some gamers are more fun to watch than others and perhaps have platforms where popular groups can be observed acquisitions inc style.

  2. Michael says:

    This sounds great, I just wouldn’t want to put Emerald out of business. Have you talked to them about this? Is there room for both in the market? Custom tables and craft beer all sound great… It’s what I expected Emerald to have when I walked in. I’m all for the free market to decide, but also hope that if you are truly altruistic about championing nerd bars, you wouldn’t drive one out of business. Good luck, and if you build it, I will come! Also, my being a composer and performing musician, if you had room for gamer bands, I would love to put something together for that.

    • Pswincher says:

      Thanks Michael! I’m a big fan and long time regular of the Emerald Tavern as well. While I do agree that our markets overlap a little, our team feels that because they are a retailer and cafe concept (vs. our 100% bar concept) we will inherently draw different audiences. The rate of growth we are seeing in other “nerdy” businesses indicates to us that there is plenty of space for both of us.

  3. Marr says:

    There are a few places across the country that have done something similar, nerd bar, craft beer, food and no retail. I will tell you that most of them added retail to their business once they opened. The multiple revenue streams is really to good to pass up. It also helps make up for the slow table turns. In a standard bar or restaurant people tend to eat/drink and leave. In a game tavern the stay for 2-4 hours, which is about 1/2 to 1/4 the turns. This really needs to be considered to effectively understand your possible sales per hour and ultimately your potential. Having a retail section helps mitigate this slow turn restuarant model. I will also say that many of these places charge a cover to play to help make up for the gamers that will use your place but just drink water all night. Hope that helps.

    • vigilante says:

      Hi Marr,

      Thanks for your feedback! You have hit the nail on the head with our pricing concerns. We have had multiple discussions over the last couple of months, and we ran our survey to see what people would be comfortable with. We are publishing a blog on Monday that will discuss the results of the survey (243 so far!) and we will specifically address all of these points.


  4. Jeff says:

    I heard about the place from Dragon’s Lair and swung by tonight after catching a movie. The place is looking good. I’m hoping to make it by more on Monday nights in the future.

    Good luck.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.