I haven't been to GenCon in over a decade but previously, I remember being able to go to a few restaurants and bars and they were sort of part of the weekend, unofficially. I saw that a bunch of places I went to my last trip have closed sadly. Some gave away swag like tokens or dice and others had on-theme beers. Some even had rooms where vendors were testing out games with patrons for free. Is there any sort of master list that contains this info? Can anyone chime in with the places they know will be unofficial GenCon 2023 participants?
Unfortunately, the two places that got heavily involved in Gen Con (The RAM and Scotty's Brewhouse) have both closed. Since then most of the nearby places just do food specials; they haven't been involved much with themes, sponsors, and swag like the RAM and Scotty's Brewhouse used to.
That's a bummer. I feel like that's such a missed opportunity for local establishments. I'm sure they get business simply from overflow of all the attendees so it probably requires little effort on their part. It would be a whole lot cooler if there were incentives though!
It really is a huge missed opportunity. Goodwood Brewing is in the RAM's old location, and the servers were excited to see Gen-Con and were very friendly when I went on the Tuesday before last year, and comped my drink when something went wrong with the order, so like, all it would take is hanging up some banners and showing nerdy stuff on the TVs and they would be nearly to 2003-era RAM (well O.K. a themed menu would really be essential but I will take either a themed menu OR a nerd-appearing environment even if I would prefer both).
Regarding Goodwood their first year in business was the weird Gen Con that was a month later, limited attendance, and just... weird. Last year they had horrible problems with their AC at the worst possible time that probably soaked up most of their attention.
Given their location and the RAM's history with Gen Con I'd encourage everyone to reach out to them on social media, call the place directly, whatever. Let them know you'll definitely plan to give them your business and mention how much you enjoyed what the previous owners did in their location. That kind of enthusiasm results in more business, better tips, etc. Let them know exactly what you're looking for during the convention, so they don't have to guess.
Doesn't Gen Con have a good relationship with Visit Indy, the Indianapolis tourist bureau?
Shouldn't Visit Indy be telling local businesses what a good opportunity this is?
I feel like there could be so much better coordination and communication here.
Maybe Visit Indy is just asleep at the switch.
If Visit Indy isn't doing so, I'd hope Gen Con itself is.
Heck, even I'd talk to some managers as a customer just to pitch them ideas. Server cosplay, themed menus and offering, etc., it'd just be an awesome thing if they did it.
Well, if they did it willingly and to have fun themselves. Things can't have the joy squeezed out of them; could you imagine being a worn-out food service employee being told they had to come up with a costume? That's a good way for a restaurant to kill morale. But if they were given the option to have fun with it, that could fly. AND it would help relieve the tedium of same-old job same-old day.
I hope Gen Con is, too, but I didn't want to say, "Gen Con should be doing even MORE for us!"
On the other hand, it could be something to write about in the annual survey.
The Whistle Stop in Indy would love to have you all. Feel free to reach out with any ideas
If so, and if your biscuits and gravy portions are as big as they are in that menu photo, you may not have to do anything special! Holy jeebus, that's hugemongous.
There are things beyond costuming and freebies that might be good things to consider. One might be to see if you could attract some of the gaming vendors to your business. I hold Paizo at the old Scotty's Brewhouse as an example of this; take a look at these two threads:
For a while, that company had an established presence at Scotty's. And that fell away, so now they're in a gaming store. Which isn't bad at all, but the point is whether companies like that would be willing to hold your establishment as a sort of "HQ for fun".
I'm not saying go as far as Paizo did at Scotty's with actual gameplay and the like. That might be more of an investment in table space than you're able to give. Rather, I'm just saying that becoming *The* spot for a group (like Baldman Games, NASCRAG, etc.) or a company such as Paizo, Asmodee, Kobold Press, etc. (here's Gen Con's exhibitor's list) might reap benefits in having others meet and greet and hang with them. Even if those companies don't do publicity and just use it as a staff hangout, that's still a win.
Of course there are all the other things we've mentioned in this thread: Themed menus (here's one example from 2016), costuming, food specials, etc. But even if you did nothing more than just have staff be cool and understand gamers a tiny bit in order to hold small conversations with them (they can read a LOT on just Reddit and Gencon.com/forums alone, let alone Twitter, Discord, etc.), that'd be a great thing. It'd be awesome.
Also, what aldctjoc mentioned. Check out that list of exhibitors as trying to get a grasp on the whole thing if you are unfamiliar with gaming can be an overwhelming task. Not necessarily hosting space for people to game but partnering up with some vendors or companies to let gamers know they're welcome could go a long way. That's the kind of thing that will spread like wildfire across attendees and will build your a relationship with them for years to come. Here I am, not having attending in almost a decade, and I'm looking for those places I knew and loved that created memorable experiences for me and my friends.
I reached out to Nevermore to see what they are doing this year. This is what they said:
"We have partnered with Hunter’s Entertainment for gen con. They will be utilizing our space each day of the event for gaming, entertainment and streaming among many other things."