"...and I was like, 'Look, we have a restaurant to run.'"
August 12, 2015 2:29 PM   Subscribe

 
the geek community

*shudder*

if shit like this keeps up it's gonna put me off science and the Cthulhu Mythos and guys named Neil entirely
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:42 PM on August 12, 2015 [34 favorites]


Oh jeez. This is where Tom Kern went after he closed down BadHappy apparently. BadHappy was so great, and I was so sad when it closed, and so looking forward to GeekBar opening just so I could eat Tom Kern food again. And yet I had no idea it had even opened. Even though I was reading RedEye every week, following all kinds of social media accounts and whatnot. Doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by bleep at 2:43 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


"My dream event right now, I'd call it Neil Squared—a guest panel by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Gaiman moderated by Neil Patrick Harris," Zoltan told me then. "I think people would pay money to be in that audience."

That's about 100k in speaking fees alone right there, I believe. It might have been a cute remark, just blue-skying, but it's hard not to see it as a red flag for out-of-touch management.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Aw man. I visited Chicago for the first time in May, and stumbled into Geekbar more or less by accident. I really enjoyed the experience. I'm disappointed to learn that it's not on the up and up.
posted by Caduceus at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2015


The Safe House has a lot to answer for. It lures the hopeful in with promises of becoming a theme'd institution, but leaves off the huge amounts of luck and sharing a city with a giant geek convention for years that it takes to succeed.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


"My dream event right now, I'd call it Neil Squared—a guest panel by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Gaiman moderated by Neil Patrick Harris," Zoltan told me then. "I think people would pay money to be in that audience."

This man has no right to be running a Geek Bar, since this is clearly, clearly Neil Cubed. Tsk.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


I see my nerdrage was pre-empted. Good work. As you were.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been there with friends who go for that sort of thing. "Trying too hard" might as well be the mission statement.
posted by PMdixon at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2015 [17 favorites]


Until recently Geek Bar employed both a full-time and part-time social media specialist.

Holy hell this is such an amazing fiery wreck
posted by Greg Nog at 2:57 PM on August 12, 2015 [22 favorites]


"I think people would pay money to be in that audience."

My favorite thing about this is how much it sounds like a child's idea of a business. "Well, if we had three celebrities here, people would pay money to see them! I've seen people pay money to see celebrities! If they were in OUR BAR, they would be paying that money TO US"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:59 PM on August 12, 2015 [60 favorites]


The Safe House! I forgot about that place. I got taken to the Safe House once, and I didn't know how the business at the door went (i.e., being made fun of on closed-circuit camera to the rest of the restaurant, because you are a new customer). I felt humiliated, and since I was still too young to order a drink and laugh about it, I had to sit there and stew. Good food, though. I have nonetheless been wary of theme restaurants since.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:00 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure "Zoltan" was the name of my D&D character when I was 11.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:02 PM on August 12, 2015


As a proud, Chicago nerd, this place just rubs me the wrong way.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:03 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've never felt so sad about Kitchen Nightmares ending
posted by theodolite at 3:03 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Imagine Gordon Ramsay trying to understand what the fuck a Cthulhutini is
posted by theodolite at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2015 [34 favorites]


Only a person who has never worked in a bar would think this was a good idea for a bar.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:10 PM on August 12, 2015 [18 favorites]


they could probably make money by advertising "what if BoingBoing was a place and you could come watch that place fail and shut down in realtime"
posted by Greg Nog at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2015 [91 favorites]


One of the more hilarious parts of this geek saga was one of the Lincoln Park homeowners associations (Chicago's valiant defenders of parking and property values) expressed concern that Geek Bar patrons would get beat up if they were out at night in Lincoln Park. They didn't say it outright but implication seemed to be that the Chads and Trixies wouldn't be able to resist wedgifying them. Then of course would come the awesome devo-esque musical smackdown that would put the children of the wealthy in their place.
posted by srboisvert at 3:15 PM on August 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


When Devo sang about being Through Being Cool this wasn't what they meant.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:20 PM on August 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


I went there once after a concert. It was... pretty mediocre. Like they didn't have good beer on tap, just in cans. They had comics I guess?

I mean I'd still go to AFK Tavern (only hypothetically, considering they are across the country from each other) despite the fact that the service there is so terrible one time the waiter didn't even come by to take our order. It's a place that is trying even harder, yet still doesn't give off as much of a 'tries too hard' vibe. Also, their drinks with silly names actually taste good.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


they could probably make money by advertising "what if BoingBoing was a place and you could come watch that place fail and shut down in realtime"

I like this. A sort of schadenfreude themed Sleep No More. Those awful hipsters will love it.
posted by clockwork at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


What is so onerous about going to a real comic book/game shop and then going to a real bar afterwards

This Yo-Dawg-We-Heard-You-Likeification of culture and commerce must be stopped
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2015 [17 favorites]


This man has no right to be running a Geek Bar, since this is clearly, clearly Neil Cubed. Tsk.

You know, thinking about, I kind of tire of nerds' overuse of not always applicable mathematical terminology. This should just be "3 Neils", or "Two Neils and a Neil" I would also allow "3! Neils" if they used all the possible Neil permutations. Or maybe "None More Neil".
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:27 PM on August 12, 2015 [23 favorites]


Two Neils, a Neil and a Geek Bar.

Hire me.
posted by griphus at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I rolled my eyes at the concept but Card Kingdom/Cafe Mox here in Seattle is basically what this place wanted to be without all the wankery and it's a really fun place to relax and have a good time.
posted by Tevin at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I went there once after a concert. It was... pretty mediocre. Like they didn't have good beer on tap, just in cans. They had comics I guess?

Oh, man, I just remembered that there was a superhero-themed burger joint in my old neighborhood! It was right near a divey bar my roommate and I really liked, too, and we were so excited! "We'll get burgers there after a night of drinking!" we said; "We'll get burgers there all the time!"

So one night, we went to the bar, then stopped by the burger joint, and it was closed. It closed at like 8 pm. "That seems unwise," we thought, but figured we'd just go there some other time, earlier.

So we checked it out a few days later. The burgers were awful, they didn't have fries, and the extent of the "theme" was some action figures haphazardly tacked onto one wall. The place was terrible on every level.

I think it lasted like a month, then closed down.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


You've all seen the pirate bar episode of Bar Rescue, right? This is hitting all the same notes of chasing your dreams and believing in your vision and finding only despair and failure and the curdling of something that should be fun and lighthearted into utter sadness
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:37 PM on August 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm not really a fan of Nerd Kitsch, but if there was a place around here that a) was conducive to meeting a group and playing board games and b) served beer, I'd be all over that. I have no idea how you make that profitable, though - it seems like it would suffer from the same problems cafes have with freelancers hanging around and not buying anything.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:39 PM on August 12, 2015


>You've all seen the pirate bar episode of Bar Rescue, right?

Wait am I not the only one shame-watching Bar Rescue?

That episode was incredible.
posted by Tevin at 3:40 PM on August 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


If there were pre-fabbed Geek Bars that you buy in a kit like Irish Bars I imagine they would be kind of like this.
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Two Neils, a Neil and a Geek Bar.

Hire me.


For what... unsavory... employment are you seeking with that resume?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:52 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Listen, I love comic books and board games and booze as much as the next self-identifying "geek," but I would avoid a place centered solely around this like the plague. Likely overpriced, poorly executed, and shoddily run are not things I like in a bar.
posted by Kitteh at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know anything about starting a bar/restaurant but the idea that you could do it in Chicago with $40k seems kind of optimistic.
posted by scose at 4:05 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Stormcrow in Vancouver is actually pretty decent, too.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:05 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe they could just install a ball pit.
posted by Artw at 4:12 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ken Hite is from Chicago. I should tell him about this as he is a nerd and this is what nerds like.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this seems to display a rather breathtaking naïveté about what it takes to run a successful bar or restaurant—or any kind of business, really.

And if "geek culture" is going to be a thing, I wish it would aim higher than "SCIENCE WORKS BITCHES" memes and branded merchandise from Hollywood entertainment franchises. How about a tasteful display of the Periodic Table as an art piece, with samples of each element? Maker art built from Arduinos and 3D-printed components? A display of Markov chains generated in realtime from seasonally appropriate corpuses? Absinthe night with actually-decent absinthes, fountains and all? Performances by laptop musicians and screening of techy experimental film shorts? That's a geek bar I can get behind.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2015 [31 favorites]


...she and several other Geek Bar employees quit in July after bounced paychecks left them without pay for more than a month. Those employees were also upset to discover their health insurance had been cancelled in April without their knowledge...

Disruption!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:34 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


The plates are made of Lego!
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Really if I'm going to a geek bar I'd prefer it to be run by the kind of people who completely nerd out around the various ways you can brew beer.
posted by solarion at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


>You've all seen the pirate bar episode of Bar Rescue, right?

Nope.

But fuck a theme.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2015


Guys, ran into a problem making the glasses out of Lego, maybe that one is not meant to be.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not really a fan of Nerd Kitsch, but if there was a place around here that a) was conducive to meeting a group and playing board games and b) served beer, I'd be all over that.

New York has The Uncommons, sort of. It's a board game store, but they have tons of tables and open board/card games that they'll let you play for as long as you want for a $5 table fee, and they have coffee and (bottled/can) beer. It's actually a pretty great place to hang out, but it probably helps that it doesn't feel the least try-hardy - it just feels like a board game store with some cool extra stuff.

There's also the Waystation, a Brooklyn bar which is famous for having a TARDIS bathroom and nerd culture themed cocktails, but it also has (non-nerdy) live music, monthly burlesque shows, a decent tap list, and just does a pretty great job of being a solid neighborhood bar on top of the nerd stuff. I guess that's the main way you can make a thing like this actually work.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Between this, a shitload of other stuff i've seen/heard/been around for, and the recent crazy racist outburst by the owner of Dorky's arcade, a toned down but still sort of "nerd bar" place like this, i'm really losing faith in the whole "bar for nerds" concept in general.

The only decent ones i knew of were like, an arcade that served beer but didn't try and play up the nerdy thing... and then the Dorky's thing happened.

Fuck Nerd Culture.
posted by emptythought at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Totally going there next time I hit NY.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


If anyone says anything to the effect of "I've never run a bar/restaurant before but it seems like fun" DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY. I know some restaurant lifers and I have nothing but admiration for them, but it's a life that you do because you can't imagine doing anything else. It's not "fun."

Piratz Tavern finally closed earlier this year. I could never convince anyone to go there with me. Although that's just as well since I imagine it was the sort of place it's really funny to think about going to until you actually do.

The space is currently the temporary home of Quarry House, who is waiting to move back into its space across the street after a fire earlier this year. I personally think that's the best outcome for Piratz. (I believe that whole block is going to be redeveloped soon ... so sigh ... Silver Spring, be good to me.)

(By the way, I actually has a ladies' comics meetup thing in Quarry House when our first choice was closed. We didn't even consider Piratz.)
posted by darksong at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


This would have been my definition of Hell. Better luck next time, Satan.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait. They didn't have to shut down, after all. Damn you, Prince of Darkness!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just because these guys were dipshits doesn't mean we should badmouth themes and trying too hard. They are both awesome when done well.
posted by maxsparber at 5:02 PM on August 12, 2015


I've seen people pay money to see celebrities! If they were in OUR BAR, they would be paying that money TO US"
shut it, frank.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


"...How about a tasteful display of the Periodic Table as an art piece, with samples of each element? Maker art built from Arduinos and 3D-printed components? A display of Markov chains generated in realtime from seasonally appropriate corpuses? Absinthe night with actually-decent absinthes, fountains and all? Performances by laptop musicians and screening of techy experimental film shorts? That's a geek bar I can get behind."

But... but that would appeal to actual geeks, and be hard for other people to understand! We're looking for easily appropriated, mass marketed cultural signifiers here. None of that weird eccentricity and creativity.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


What is so onerous about going to a real comic book/game shop and then going to a real bar afterwards

It's not as if there aren't at least a few within reasonable walking distance of Chicago Comics on Clark, especially if you steer clear of Wrigleyville. (I've often taken my purchases straight to Johnny O'Hagan's and perused them over a full Irish breakfast.) This looks and sounds like a Mad Science franchisee that serves liquor.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:00 PM on August 12, 2015


I mean I think what I really want is the card room at the local gentlemen's club ala Jeeves and Wooster but without the racism and sexism.

I think what I'm saying is I like paneling and green felt.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:05 PM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


NYC also has Brooklyn Strategist! They just doubled the size of their play room, too.

New York has The Uncommons, sort of.

You can have a really good time at Uncommons if you manage to score a table. It's got this great groggy saturday morning feeling to it. You get a grilled cheese, a soda, and grab whatever game won't make all the other game boxes fall on you.
posted by greenland at 6:06 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


How about a tasteful display of the Periodic Table as an art piece, with samples of each element?

That's Theodore Grey's Periodic Table table and it's two and a half hours south of Chicago in the offices of Wolfram Research in Champaign.
posted by MsMolly at 6:12 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


NYC also has Brooklyn Strategist! They just doubled the size of their play room, too.

This is where my bachelor party was and if you're not dumb about it they are seemingly okay with people bringing in beers.
posted by griphus at 6:15 PM on August 12, 2015


Yantos says she and several other Geek Bar employees quit in July after bounced paychecks left them without pay for more than a month. Those employees were also upset to discover their health insurance had been cancelled in April without their knowledge, she says.

"It was just a surprise one day," Yantos says. "I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and was told my coverage was no longer valid."


Wow, fuck everything about this man's wankdream.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:19 PM on August 12, 2015 [14 favorites]


From the comments:

Wow, we live in the neighborhood, but definitely won't be going back after this. I'm more a geek about labor conditions than board games.

This is the most Chicago Reader comment ever and I love it with all of my heart.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:37 PM on August 12, 2015 [48 favorites]


Also, looking at the menu of games there, seriously, Arkham Horror? If you're trying to run a restaurant and turn tables, that is not a game you want to have people playing.

Snakes & Lattes in Toronto has done well on a menu of long, complicated games as well as short ones. They don't have fast table turn over, which is why they ended reservations. But they've been very successful, with several imitators in the city, and a second location. I've heard rumours they are moving into a very large space sometime - maybe that will replace the second location (which is pretty small).

It probably helps that they also have a) really good "game gurus" available to not just suggest but also teach games and b) are one of the better boardgame retail stores in the city (in person or online).
posted by jb at 6:43 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


They say these geeks are a dime a dozen. I'm looking for the guy who's supplying the dimes.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:01 PM on August 12, 2015


darksong, I actually went to Piratz a couple of times before it closed, and 'indifferent' is probably the best word I can come up with to describe both my reaction and the bar itself. Watching it be made over (and then un-made-over) was entertaining, but yeah, I'd rather go to Quarry House.

Have you been to any of the Ladies' Night meetups at Fantom Comics, in Dupont? I always have a ton of fun there.
posted by nonasuch at 7:12 PM on August 12, 2015


We turn out to have a board-games-and-beer place near where I am, and I'm very much a geek and very interested in geek things, and I'd never heard of it until I drove past it once and had to google to see wtf a Malted Meeple was. They also do milkshakes. It looks good, on the one hand, and yet on the other hand, you know what stops me from going to my friends' houses and drinking beer and playing boardgames? Scheduling. Not lack of board games or beer or a place to have board games and beer. In their case, they charge a table fee that seems to cover the fact that people are likely to stick around longer, but since I haven't had reason to actually go there, I'm a little hazy about whether they're doing particularly well. Now I'm tempted to go see, though.
posted by Sequence at 7:15 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing to remember about Cafe Mox is that Card Kingdom was an incredibly successful online business first, and then they did the whole game store + cafe thing with that profit, which they continue to turn, because that online business is still going strong. Being geeky and liking stuff in a passionate and public way is all fine and dandy but that doesn't make money. I really appreciate Cafe Mox's existence and the way I never feel uncomfortable there (unlike places like Geek Bar where I feel absolutely terrible) but I have no illusions about the source of its success.
posted by Mizu at 7:16 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


The "funniest" thing about the idea of a geek bar in 2015 in Chicago is that between people geeking out about beers almost everywhere and approximately 8000 barcades* and trivia contests everywhere and tons of drinking establishments friendly to board games happening as long as drinking is happening, it is never been easier to be an alcoholic geek who doesn't want to stay home in our fair city.


* For christ's sake, the gay beer and bourbon barcade is opening a second location.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Statistically speaking a place called "Geek Bar" is just average...now if you opened up a bar to the right of it called "+ 3 sigma"...now you're talking!
posted by crashlanding at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not lack of board games or beer or a place to have board games and beer.

The great thing about the Uncommons in particular is that it gives you a chance to try a bunch of new games you've never played before for very low risk. Couple that with the fact that their staff know the games inside out and backwards and are great at recommending new games based on ones you like, and you have a great place to kill a few hours.

It probably also helps explain why I've wound up buying at least one game I've played and loved each of the last four times I've gone.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:49 PM on August 12, 2015


Bars have the ability to be fantastic money makers, but you have to watch the bottom line like a hawk. Sounds to me like this guy doesn't actually want to be in the bar business. The main theme of a bar should be "drinking". If you think there's something else that's going to get people through the door, you better be able to charge for that thing. And whatever that thing is, it probably won't have as good a profit margin as booze.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:14 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


* For christ's sake, the gay beer and bourbon barcade is opening a second location.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT we are so tired of dragging ourselves to the original through endless Cubs throngs
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:44 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


retro futurist pandering like the fifth element

Hey now, it's not a film without flaws by any means, but its love of goofy Möbius/Metal Hurlant imagery is incredibly sincere. As is its love of cheesy Gabriel-esque synth balladeering, sadly, but I wouldn't ever accuse that movie of pandering - it's a passion project at its heart.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:47 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


And if "geek culture" is going to be a thing, I wish it would aim higher

Everything you named was cool, but I think there's more than enough room in the world for both types of geek bars. It's okay to have Irish pubs where the menus aren't printed in Gaelic or a sushi restaurant run by non-Japanese folks or have a TGI Fridays where wait staff doesn't wear tsotchkes.
posted by FJT at 9:55 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously, how can people even stand derivative shit like

Yeah, way to seriously undercut your point about a "welcoming atmosphere" and epeen measuring.
posted by FJT at 10:05 PM on August 12, 2015


If you think there's something else that's going to get people through the door, you better be able to charge for that thing. And whatever that thing is, it probably won't have as good a profit margin as booze.

This is what i tell every single person i've talked to who has a dream to open some kind of place like this(or a music venue) that's not focused on the booze.

You either need to accept it's a money pit, or have a really solid already established crowd that will follow you there and pay for that other thing... which will likely barely keep the doors open.

The only other thing that makes money even close to what booze makes is coffee, and that's only if you have a lot of foot traffic, and really only if you're roasting it yourself.

Just accept, and be shameless about putting the booze up front and the theme/quirk second. If you're grossed out by that, don't get into the business at all unless you have some other money making avenue for the place.(or another business to prop it up)

The guys i know that run a video game store are fucking lawyers, who wanted to run a video game store. They're lawyers 90% of the time, and hired other people to actually run the stores which they ran about 50-60% of the time at first in shifts. They just shoveled flaming cash in to it for years and it still barely gets past breaking even despite popularity and online sales. They gave up on the arcade idea, and the shows idea because it was costing more and requiring more labor hours than just retail sales. And it still basically loses money.

Now they opened a retail weed store...

That'll probably be the next thing actually, if legalized states allow the equivalent of hookah lounges... combo weed smoking parlor/arcade, or something. You gotta have some vice you can sell with huge margins to pack the register and pay the bills.
posted by emptythought at 10:47 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm so, so glad my own local geek bar seems to have a better understanding of how this stuff works.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:40 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I'm doing everything I can to be as transparent as possible. The situation we're in is bad, and good people have been hurt in the process. I'm doing whatever possible to make things right," Zoltan says.

Doing everything you can to be as transparent as possible would be publishing your QuickBooks ledger online for Kickstarter participants to view as you work day to day and month to month.

Bouncing paychecks and canceling health insurance without notifying employees is not being as transparent as possible.
posted by hippybear at 12:49 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


This may be my idealistic socialist side talking but ideally I would say the number one job of any business is not bouncing paychecks and cancelling health insurance.
If you can't provide for your staff then you shouldn't be a business.*



*I'm aware that the majority of the corporate world would disagree here.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:06 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Fwiw, that silly dashcon thing was also near Chicago...

The last thing this place needs is a ball pit.
posted by sparkletone at 4:34 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


For christ's sake, the gay beer and bourbon barcade is opening a second location.

Christ what a drinker! ( he needs two locations).
posted by srboisvert at 5:56 AM on August 13, 2015


darksong and anyone else in the MD suburbs of DC, The Board and Brew in College Park is a café with a table fee and a thousand board games, just like the NYC establishment described above. It serves beer as well, including on tap. And their food is surprisingly good.

They are always packed to the rafters in the evenings, and I couldn't be happier about this. There's no theme (unless you count the bookcases full of games) or pandering. They are just Doing It Right.
posted by seyirci at 5:56 AM on August 13, 2015


For what it's worth, I probably know more about Piratz Tavern than anyone else on MetaFilter (and if that's not true, I know you in real life, and I didn't know you were a MeFite). Piratz Tavern's closing was caused, I would estimate, by 60% mismanagement, 30% bad location, and 10% nonstop harassment, prank calls and death threats by Bar Rescue fans. I don't deny that it was a terribly run business and hemorrhaged money, but while it was open it forged a loyal, tight-knit community of people from all walks of life, and that community exists to this day.

Ask me anything.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:46 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is amazing how his entire business "plan" seems to be founded on the Geek Social Fallacies.

Ostracizers Are Evil: Can you believe a neighborhood association didn't want us to have our amazing bar and restaurant in their area?? BULLYING.

Friends Accept Me As I Am: Look, I'm sorry that I stopped paying people and that I secretly cancelled their health insurance, but I had no choice and I SAID I was SORRY and I am TRYING VERY HARD and in conclusion it is mean to talk to me about this anymore. I DID MY BEST AND THAT IS ALL THAT ANYONE CAN DO

Friendship Before All: I know we squandered the original startup funds, but we need more money, so we need our loyal customers to pony up! YOU DON'T WANT TO BE THE REASON OUR DREAM ENDS, DO YOU???

Friendship Is Transitive: If you like comics and/or science jokes, then you will love our mediocre food and terrible service!

Friends Do Everything Together: If you ever owned a graphing calculator you should eat here. You should drink here. You should make free art here that we will sell to benefit ourselves but you'll get "exposure". You should tweet our tweets. You should play board games here. You should support our second Kickstarter. You should wear our branded labcoats (jk we haven't made those yet my bad).
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:01 AM on August 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


Doing everything you can to be as transparent as possible would be publishing your QuickBooks ledger online for Kickstarter participants to view as you work day to day and month to month.

Zoltan: "'QuickBooks'? 'Ledger'?"

I've had friends who were absolutely boundlessly enthusiastic about creative projects like this, but...I don't want to say that they had zero knowledge about actual logistics of making things happen, it's just that they didn't care about that boring stuff. Yet they still expected things to fall into place, and were surprised when plans disintegrated. I get the feeling like that's what's happened here, minus the (complete) disintegration...They could sit around and jabber all day about what would be "cool" in a geek bar, but when reality kicks in way past the point that they should have either given up or taken the business part seriously, people are going to get bit.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:25 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jon Mitchell: I see my nerdrage was pre-empted. Good work. As you were.

By qcubed, no less. Eponysterical judo chop!
posted by dr_dank at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I could see where this was going after seeing mention of a CEO, a CMO, two Social Media Managers and a Product Manager – but not a General Manager or a Bartender.

Bars are simple businesses, and that tricks people into thinking they are easy businesses.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm also just generally really tired of being hit up for donations by for-profit businesses. If your bookstore or bar is in trouble, and I like your bookstore or bar, I'm more than happy to come help out by buying books or drinks, and am very receptive to some kind of "hey, we're having a tough time so consider coming here for a while instead of other places if you'd like us to stick around" message. But I'm a lot less receptive to "hey, we're having a tough time so just give us money, and we will continue to charge you for things!"
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


The guys i know that run a video game store are fucking lawyers, who wanted to run a video game store. They're lawyers 90% of the time, and hired other people to actually run the stores which they ran about 50-60% of the time at first in shifts.

Indie Small businesses - especially ones where you think "Hey! What a cool place! What a refreshing alternative to all of these boring, corporate, bland stores! Yay independent businesses!", so far as I can tell, fall into one of several categories.

* They're not actually making any money, and the owners are hemorraghing savings
* They're not actually making any money, but are being funded by one of the owners' partners/families' jobs
* They are actually making money, but are secretly owned by a larger business group.
* They are not actually making money, but that's OK since they actually are a non-profit.

There *are* of course small cool indie businesses that are making enough money to keep the owners in a comfortable lifestyle in a realiable fashion and scratch their creative itches and urges at the same time - I'd argue Metafilter was/is one of those, but even those are often devastating amounts of work.

I have a huge amount of respect for small biz owners, frequent them where I can, and always try and say at least "Thank you!" if I'm in a small cool shop that looks like it's had a lot of heart and soul poured into it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:45 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Your business ≠ fantasy camp
posted by Navelgazer at 9:38 PM on August 13, 2015


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