Friday, July 12, 2024

Nerdvana opens second gaming-themed venue in Upstate NY

Nerdvana, the gaming-themed restaurant where guests can play video and board games while they dine and drink, has recently opened its second venue in Rochester, Upstate New York.

With an offering of craft cocktails and a full dinner menu featuring shared plates, soups and salads, burgers, chicken and pasta dishes, a children’s menu and dessert items, the new establishment has opened in the area known as Rochester’s Neighborhood of Play, as it sits alongside the Strong National Museum of Play.

Nerdvana is the brainchild of Kristy Junio Pitchford, a dedicated videogame and tabletop game enthusiast who has been professionally contributing to the entertainment world for over 30 years as an author, designer, producer and presenter.

In 2015, Kristy founded Nerdvana, which includes Nerdvana’s bar, restaurant, coffee shop and lounge locations, as well as Nerdvana Games who create and publish original tabletop games.

We had the chance to speak to Kristy about the overall concept, their new venue and what the future holds.

Robin: Hi Kristy, how are you? The original Nerdvana opened in Frisco TX in 2016, what was the motivation for wanting to open a nerd-based venue? 

Kristy: I wanted to create a place that makes gaming a more crafted experience in a different way than traditional arcade structure. In essence, I wanted to create a place where me and my friends would want to hang out. At Nerdvana people can come in and game together, socialize, eat, and drink without ever leaving their seats. 

You describe Nerdvana as an ‘upscale nerd culture experience’ – how do you set out to achieve this?   

Nerdvana is a place for nerds, by nerds. So we get it! We also make amazing food, unique handcrafted cocktails and have a gigantic catalog of video and board games available that showcase our nerd passion. 

Nerdvana Rochester Facebook
You’ve recently opened your second venue in Rochester NY, what inspired you to open there? 

We always knew we eventually wanted to expand but the question was where? The team in Frisco is so passionate about what we do, we really needed to make sure wherever we opened next that it would be able to carry the same Nerdvana passion and integrity. We scouted out a few potential locations and ultimately decided Rochester was the place! As the home of The Strong National Museum of Play and the heart of Festival City, USA, downtown Rochester is where the world comes to play. We are very excited to be part of VIDA’s ‘Neighborhood of Play’.

Are there any differences between the Frisco and Rochester venues? 

Although there are some structural differences based on building limitations, fundamentally both locations are the same. Same menu, same amazing cultural and vibe. 

Cocktails including the Diamond Butt Stallion and The Eldridge Nightshade
How would you describe the food and drink offering at Nerdvana? 

Unique, fresh and delicious! All our food is created right here in our scratch kitchen and custom cocktails at our bar. 

What’s some of your favorite items on the menu? 

It’s really hard to choose because everything is so amazing and we are always creating new dishes to add to our menu but I would say our ‘Hadouken Beef’ is a must try for any newbies visiting. It’s a Nerdvana staple for sure. 

Hadouken Beef
What games are on the menu at Nerdvana? 

So many! We have a gigantic catalog of the most popular board games as well as video games available to play on the latest and also retro classic consoles. There really is something for every gamer here. We are all passionate gamers ourselves so a lot of thought went into what we wanted to offer our customers. 

Can parties and groups visit Nerdvana? What are any restrictions? 

Although we welcome everyone, the best video game dining experience is 2-4 people as each console has a maximum of 4 controllers. That way everyone can eat, drink, and play! Nerdvana seats on a first come, first serve basis, so no need to call ahead. Just turn up! 

Nerdvana Rochester Facebook
How has Nerdvana worked with their local LGBTQ communities in the past, or plan to in the future? 

Nerdvana has and always will be a safe space for the LGBTQ community. We take our inclusivity very seriously and have fought more than one battle to ensure everyone feels safe, staff and guests included. 

We have a close relationship with the Dallas Voice and often partner with them on charity events and local outreach, including being sponsors for ‘Black Tie Dinner’ – a non profit that raises funds for LGBTQ supportive organizations through North Texas and providing food and support for Dallas Teen Pride. We hope to partner with LGBTQ programs and organizations in Rochester as we become more familiar with our new home and opportunities arise. 

What does the future hold for Nerdvana in Rochester, and Frisco too?

We plan to continue to provide a great experience for our guests to enjoy. We are also always looking for the next Nerdvana location and already have some good ideas on where that might be. Our social media is the best way to stay up to date with our future plans. 

Talking of which, how can our readers find out more (web and social links)?

You can find us online at the following links: 

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