Dungeons & Drafts Is Building a Real-Life Fantasy Tavern in Fort Collins

The first thing that patrons will see when they walk into Dungeons & Drafts are the stained-glass windows, says Manny Garza. A tableau of wizards and warriors will quest across the panels, designed by a local artist. From high up on the wall, a mounted dragon’s head will stare down at tables of drinkers huddled around cups of mead and piles of books. Behind the bar, swords and shields will glint in the chandeliers’ flickering light.

It sounds like a scene ripped from a fantasy novel, but starting on May 29, visitors will be able to experience it for themselves when Dungeons & Drafts, a new geek-themed bar and restaurant, opens on South Lemay in Fort Collins. Founded by Garza and his wife, Melissa, the new pub aims to be the destination for nerds in Colorado who are looking for a welcoming place to cosplay, grab a bite to eat and play a game or two.

The idea for Dungeons & Drafts came together while the Garzas were working as intelligence analysts for the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. The couple, both Army veterans with more than fifteen years of combined service, noticed that few of their colleagues at the time shared their passion for games or costumes.

“We would go to a lot of comic-con conventions and get into what’s called 'post-con depression' when we had to go back to the real world,” says Manny. “We were always looking for a geeky bar — a place where people could shmooze or play board games. But there just wasn’t one.” After some discussion, the couple decided to take the plunge and start their own.

The Garzas started by turning their analytical skills to finding the ideal place for their business. Melissa created a ranking of the geekiest states, based on tech jobs and training, number of conventions and other criteria; Colorado came in third. Melissa had grown up in the state, and the couple decided that Fort Collins would be a good place to settle down.
To fund the project, the Garzas turned to Kickstarter, raising nearly $58,000 from an initial goal of $9,600. Manny says they drew inspiration from other establishments around the country that cater to geeks, including The Cloak & Blaster in Orlando, Geek Bar in Chicago and Fort Collins’s own Haunted Game Cafe.

Dungeons & Drafts will offer a full menu of pub fare, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, with a few geeky twists. On Turkey Leg Thursdays, the Garzas and chef Kevin Finney plan to dish out the Renaissance-fair staples along with a spread of other smoked items. One thing that won’t be on the menu is fried food: The bar’s initial budget doesn’t allow for a deep fryer, Manny says, so french fries and other oil-bathed goodies will have to come from the oven instead.

The bar will feature thirty beers on tap, as well as mead and local tipples from Longmont’s Climb Hard Cider and others. Dungeons & Drafts is working with Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins to create a custom beer for the pub. Drinkers looking for something a little harder will be able to sip on cocktails like the cheekily named Thyme Lord, a mix of light rum, lemon-thyme simple syrup and soda water with a sprig of thyme.

Entertainment at the new bar will run the geeky gamut, from a library of board games like Settlers of Catan to Xbox One and Playstation 4. The bar will also encourage cosplay, and the owners plan to offer a discount or incentive to fans who show up in costume.

Dungeons & Drafts is currently slated to open with a Kickstarter VIP party on May 29, followed by a soft public opening. The bar will celebrate its grand opening the second weekend of June.
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Adam Roy is a contributor of Westword, a former editor at Outside and Matador Network, his writing has also appeared in Paste, High Country News and other online and print publications nationally and abroad.
Contact: Adam Roy