Welcome adventures I am not going to lie to you; this has been a remarkably interesting year indeed!
So, I guess I will tell you a little about us and what our plan was and then how 2020 had different plans.
Ok here we go, our owner Smiler as most people know him, has spent the best part of his adult life working in hospitality and worked every job from being a kitchen porter to a general manager at every level from gipsy pub to 5* venues and even runs his own mobile events company.
Well, he got it in his head that he wanted to open a bar but not just a carbon copy of every other bar in town something a little different.
So, with this in mind, he thought about what he would do. Now if you have ever met Smiler you will know that he is a massive geek and loves his games, so it makes sense that he incorporated this into the idea (or basically made it the idea).
The idea of being an affordable venue in Harrogate serving quality Food & Drink where people can play games and meet other like-minded people in a friendly safe space.
We found the venue 7 Bower Road, Harrogate, HG1 1BB which was the old LeD2 restaurant which had been closed for some time but had a full kitchen, bar and all the furniture & equipment we would need to get us started, great.
We held a pre-opening the weekend of Aircon 2020 as we couldn’t miss having that many board game fans in town and it went really well, we just started with games and cocktails as we planned to get everything ironed out for the grand opening at Easter (by the way where did Easter go?).
Little did we know that that we would close that Sunday for much longer than we intended.
Lockdown was announced and we weren’t worried about a few weeks, we would be fine it's only a few weeks, as you know weeks turned into months and help from the government wasn’t going to happen due to us opening when we did.
During this time, we had a chance to have a closer look at everything in a bid to get things open asap.
Unfortunately for us the kitchen was in such a state we had to scrap it all and start again, and my personal favourite, the furniture in the restaurant was somehow worse, most of the tables had MDF tops with felt on top and had been painted halfway up the table I guess in some kind of money saving effort.
So, no kitchen, no furniture, a bit of a set back but with a little help from a great friend Nick we were able to get the kitchen open so that we could get on Just Eat and start to make some money. We also had a recommendation from Ian from over the road at Burgers and More at the Damn Yankee he told us to speak to David, who did us a great deal on some quality tables and chairs to get us fit for customers.
Covid aside all looking fairly positive.
Then lockdown ended but we had a business model built around people socialising and playing games this wasn’t going to be easy with the new rules in place however we did our research put into place all the policies the government required of us and a couple they hadn’t though of yet just to make it extra safe for our customers and staff.
We were off with over 250 games & a large library of Dungeons & Dragons RPG book and reference cards for people could play (all from Smilers personal collection which is a little worrying to say the least).
We also had a simple menu revolving around hotdogs, having spent most of his childhood up at the local American base, Smiler had a love for great hotdogs. Not the small cheap ones you normally get. So we did a lot of research and found what we believe to be the best dogs in town and even found an amazingly good Vegan dog too.
Things were looking good we had several regular D&D groups some with our in-house DM’s some just coming down with their own to use the space and books. Also, several regulars just coming in for food, drinks and to play games.
Then we had a leak from the flats above not ideal only damaged a few tables and the roof & shut half our restaurant for a short time but did make us another good friend in Lisa who has become a regular on our Call of Cthulhu RPG’s.
Just as we start to make progress the government imposes curfew which wasn’t ideal, but it was for “The greater good” all this meant was we lost a few hours a day and we couldn’t do as many RPG sessions was what we thought what it actually meant was less customer were now venturing out but also again it was for “the greater good”.
We started to adapt and maximise the time we had with our customer and although not as busy as we needed, we still had a great crowd of regulars supporting us and we kept going.
Now more restrictions came into play, but we were ready for them as we already did most of them, so it just meant we had to add a couple and again our customers adapted, and all was good.
Lockdown 2.0 we closed our doors for a second time and this time with a promise of support from the government in the form of a grant up to £3k so no worries, unfortunately this didn’t go through until the last week in November and was only £1334 which although helped didn’t go far.
We are then told we can open, but as we are in tier two, we have to follow even more restrictions and again this was not a problem we always want to keep our customers and staff as safe as possible, so we read through them to see how we can adapt.
Now a big part of what we do at the geek bar is connect people, and one of the things I know Smiler and the staff are enormously proud of, is that we connect those people who normally struggle to interact with people; some with social anxiety, others with learning disabilities and other issues be it thorough D&D, Pub Quiz or just learning to play games.
Now under the new rules there is no room for this and if we fail to meet any of the new requirements we get shut down and a £10k fine. As you can imagine, like many of the independent businesses in Harrogate, we have decided that for now the doors will remain closed to the public but hopefully not for too long.
In the meantime our DM’s Alex, Matt & JM have been continuing their campaigns online through Roll20 & Google hangouts, our Cosplay Queens Julia & Hannah have been working on some cocktail demos to show you how to make cocktails at home, Dan & James have been working hard in the Cave (Kitchen) getting food & Cocktails out to our customers Friday to Sunday 18:00 – 00:00 and Sid & Smiler have been working with our 3D & Resin Printers making masks for all who need them and banging out our Dice Towers and various items for you to give as gifts for others or treats for yourselves.
In conclusion it has been a rough year, but we are all safe and healthy and all being well we will be back with you in real life soon so until then, stay safe & “live long and prosper” adventurers.