Ben’s new game is York cafe Geek Retreat

YORK is ready for a new addition to its burgeoning cafe scene, with the opening of Geek Retreat at Low Ousegate today.

The gaming café and event hub will open its doors at 10 a.m. in the former STA travel agency.

The business is part of a growing franchise, which has outlets across the country including Harrogate, Bradford and Leeds.

The York franchisee is Essex-born Ben Allen, who came to York in 2008 as a film and television student at York St John’s University.

The 31-year-old ‘fell in love with the city’ and stayed, freelancing as a ‘runner’ in films, then working in shops, before becoming a bus driver with First Bus for 7 years.

Ben said: “It was a good job, but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing for as long as I did.”

A friend told them about Geek Retreat, which he said sounded “cool” and he took over the York Region franchise almost two years ago, just before the first lockdown.

“It (the confinement) made me question a lot of life choices,” he said, enthusiastic about his new direction.

Ben will be helped by his father, Rob Allen, who moved to York in 2013, and “came to help me make this dream come true”.

He also employs five ‘kick ass’ employees, adding, “They’re all interesting people in their own right. If I’m being honest, I think I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to have on staff.

Geek Retreat, which was founded by Stephen Walsh in Glasgow in 2013, describes itself as a ‘geek culture’ retailer. It offers games, trading cards, comics, t-shirts and accessories.

Ben said, “I’ve really started to like the culture they promote, everyone is welcome and there’s a nice atmosphere for people of all geekdoms to meet and chat or play games. It sounded wonderful. As someone who had tried playing Dungeons and Dragons in a pub, I liked the idea of ​​a dedicated space where something like this could be played.

He continued, “Geek Retreat is something I still struggle to describe to people. We’re a boutique, cafe and event space all under one roof. It’s a place you can come alone or with friends, read a comic or play a board or card game, have a drink and something to eat. But we also have events like Pokémon night where people know they can come and find someone someone else to play the Pokemon card game with.

On Thursday, Ben hosted a “VIP party” with his family and friends, testing out today’s opening, leading him to rectify any issues he might have for today. Since this is his first venture, he accepts he has a lot to learn although he is optimistic about the future, expecting more Geek Retreats to open up across the board. national.

Ben added: “I think during the pandemic a lot of people have had time to discover or rediscover hobbies that they didn’t have time for, and now that things are looking up they are looking for people with whom to share these hobbies.”

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