New East Van pub rolls the dice on nerds

Storm crows are a species of bird that appear in both the online role-playing game World of Warcraft and the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. “Stormcrow” is also one of the aliases used by Gandalf the Grey in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it’s pretty obvious what kind of clientele the Storm Crow Tavern hopes to attract.

The Commercial Drive pub, which opened earlier this month on the premises of the former Latin Quarter, wants to be a destination where people can wave their geek flags with pride. With décor including such nerdy knick-knacks as battle-axes, laser guns, autographed photos of Game Of Thrones characters, statues of Cthulhu and various robots, a replica One Ring to Rule Them All dangling behind the bar and a book selection featuring Choose Your Own Adventure titles, Storm Crow isn’t trying to cater to the Cactus Club or Donnelly Group crowd.

“We’re all about nerd culture,” manager Martin Deyotte told the Courier on a recent visit. “Before moving back to Vancouver, I ran a live indie rock venue in Calgary for eight years and I noticed that all the hipsters had a wide background of nerd culture. All the cool people would sit around a table talking about Star Wars or playing D&D back in the day and I realized we can come out of the closet now. It’s actually OK to admit you like this stuff.”

Storm Crow manager Martin Deyotte would clearly rather watch Rocket Robin Hood than pose for a photo. (Jason Lang photo)

The idea is to be a hangout for barflies who were into Firefly, a drinking hole for connoisseurs of Sarlacc holes, and a place where everybody knows He Who Must Not Be Named. They don’t serve actual Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, but at least the server will probably get the reference.

“We have a big gaming table that can be reserved for groups who want to have dinner and play games,” said Deyotte. “We already have about five nights reserved for it for people who want to play D&D or Risk or [Settlers of] Catan.”

There’s also a giant flatscreen playing cult favourite films or TV series (but not Canucks games) on mute, although Deyotte, a horror fan, says they won’t be showing anything too gory. “We are a food primary establishment, so we don’t want to put in anything too R-rated while people are eating.”

Unlike the Mos Eisley Cantina, they also don’t discriminate against droids.

He added that the high dork factor isn’t simply a business ploy to exploit an untapped market. Owner Jason Kapalka, the founder of PopCap Games, whose free online games include Bejeweled, Zuma, and Plants vs Zombies, is a self-described “nerd herder” who wants to provide a place for likeminded souls to get together away from their computers. “Right now the place isn’t even half done and we’re just getting started,” said Deyotte. “Eventually I want to see the walls just covered so you’ll be able to stare at just all this amazing memorabilia. I think it is going to really cozy here by the time it’s winter.”

And, as they keep reminding us on Game of Thrones, winter is coming.

(© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier)

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