At LA’s Geeky Teas, Friday Night Is Nerd Heaven | News & Opinion

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On a Friday night in Burbank, California, not far from Walt Disney Studios HQ, you’ll find an assorted group of gamers slipping past a TARDIS and through the doors at Anglophile-heaven Geeky Teas to roll the D&D dice at TGIRPGF (Thank Goodness It’s Role Playing Game Friday, obvs).

Some are in light cosplay, others in fluffy adult onesies. A special few are decked out in the 11th Doctor Bathrobe, but everyone’s serious about games. PCMag went along to sip some piping hot Fire Mare Brew tea, have a swift turn on the pinball machine, and find out more.

Geeky Teas DalekDuring game night, $5 will provide access to the store’s 1,000+ board games, a can of fizzy pop (soda) and a free packet of crisps (potato chips), or you can bring your own sustenance. They use Britishisms here, so if you need to freshen up, ask for the loo (restroom), or drift into the “Carnival of Astounding Art” Victorian-era back room and queue up (locate the line) yourself.

If you have feline fur allergies, bring your EpiPen, because the two resident shop cats rule the roost, and there’s a cat rescue in the back. If you’re lucky, Mr. President (a wonderfully haughty black and white tom cat), will even do tricks, such as ringing an old-fashioned steampunk style brass bell or offering his paw in greeting.

This is indeed a strange and mysterious place. There’s The Cure on the turntable, British chocolate bars on the shelves, a full-size Dalek, and “The kettle is always on,” said Donna Ricci, the store’s owner. Geeky Teas has been in this location for 18 months, but started as a going concern in 2014, when Ricci decided to get out of alt. fashion and try something new.

“The idea for Geeky Teas grew out of my former steampunk clothing store, Clockwork Couture,” she told PCMag. “We already had secret game nights after hours there and, when I decided to change direction, customers came to me and said: ‘I’d rather buy board games from you than Amazon’ so I thought, ‘OK, I could carry some of the more popular ones,’ and it grew from there.”

The two most popular games for in-store gameplay are Ticket to Ride and Splendor, while the most popular candy is Aero milk chocolate.

Ticket to Ride and Splendor at Geeky Teas

It turns out the love of all-things-Anglophilia is inherited. Ricci’s grandmother was originally from Wales, where—as most geeks know—they shot the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. In fact, Wil Weaton shot his “steampunk date with John Barrowman” at Ricci’s old store, using the TARDIS as a location.

Is it a real TARDIS, imported from the BBC’s old props department outside the store?

Geeky Teas TARDIS“Ah, no,” laughed Ricci. “We built our homage to the TARDIS ourselves. Grant Imahara, from Mythbusters, is a friend, and he formulated rough calculations, using tools which took into account the heights of the various actors who have played the Doctor, and where they appear relative to their TARDIS’ dimensions.”

The TARDIS at Geeky Teas is closely modeled after Ricci’s favorite—the 10th Doctor (David Tennant)—and it’s certainly larger on the inside than it appears.

Up next, Ricci is hoping to purchase a reconditioned red double decker Routemaster bus next year for roving mystery tours and corporate team building trips. She ran a Kickstarter in 2016, but didn’t quite raise the full amount (they’re a steep $20,000, with further funds needed to kit it out), so it’s back to the drawing board.

“There’s a company in San Diego which restores original London buses,” said Ricci, “and it’s still my pipe dream. The plan is to take out every other bench on the top and bottom decks, install tables, and make it a mobile gaming palace. Then we’ll take it to firms and teach people how to play games and socialize with each other, as a bonding exercise to improve team functionality.”

It might sound light-hearted, but Ricci has serious intent behind her game-playing emporium. “At Geeky Teas we believe games are an important aspect of helping people communicate with each other, especially in these difficult times. We all need to learn how to play.”

Geeky Teas is located at 2120 West Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.





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