Somewhere at the intersection of Dungeons and Dragons and Dave & Buster’s, a new gaming restaurant and bar is set to open May 1 in downtown Savannah.
Called The Chromatic Dragon, the space at 514 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, formerly Bub-Ba-Q’s, will combine food, beverages and lots of games — board games, video games, party games and tabletop role-playing games, according to its owners.
“This is for people who want to have that food and drink experience and game while they eat and drink,” said Clegg Ivey, a co-owner.
Ivey is also the co-founder of The Guild Hall next door, a gamerspace and makerspace for creative types that now operates four buildings within the same city block between Montgomery Street and MLK.
He and business partner Jacob Heider said they got the idea after visiting a few gaming pubs in bigger cities and seeing how fast their community of nearly 400 members had grown since launching in September 2014.
“When we opened the Guild Hall, we thought we’d have just one building,” Ivey said. “Things have really, really mushroomed — not to use a Mario reference.”
After Bub-Ba-Q’s owner approached Ivey and Heider about taking over their lease, the duo agreed and launched a Kickstarter in January, raising $20,937 from more than 150 backers within a month.
Ivey said crowdfunding was a good way for them to not just raise capital but to gauge the community’s interest in having a gamer pub, much like The Guild Hall’s membership has grown through word-of-mouth referrals.
So far the duo has invested about $75,000 in renovations. Diners can expect to see multiple couches, high-definition monitors and a menu of elevated pub food.
A centerpiece will be a new bar at the front of the restaurant. Workers wheeled in the side of the bar on Wednesday, a black, dragon-scaled textile. The top will be designed by Savannah-based metalworks company La Bastille, with mythological creatures stamped into a pressed zinc top.
Ivey said it was a priority to use local artisans in the space. A custom dragon sculpture and stained glass window will also be installed to complete the mythological theme.
“Of the money we’ve spent, a third of that has gone toward local artists,” he said. “That’s hugely important to us … that if The Guild Hall is going to have a pub, it’s going to support local artists.”
Food-wise, Ivey said, they enlisted the help of Cohen’s Retreat chef Kirk Blaine in both recruiting a chef and developing the menu. Chromatic Dragon chef Bret Gnat will be serving pub favorites like chicken wings and fish and chips with hand-cut fries — all with cleverly devised nerdy pop culture names.
The cocktail menu will also please hardcore gamers with offerings like Evolution shots based on Pokémon lore and a blue or red drink served in special corked glasses, a play off the “mana” or “health” bars collected in many games as a resource.
As for the name, Heider and Ivey sought inspiration from old English pubs and mythology.
“We wanted a pub name that was traditional, and traditional pub names are often named after animals and mythological creatures. You think of The Prancing Pony from ‘The Hobbit’ and that type of thing,” Heider said.
Going through their favorite mythological characters they settled on Tiamat, queen of the evil dragons in Dungeons & Dragons and a Babylonian goddess.
“The Chromatic Dragon has five different heads … and we thought this is a really iconic and cool thing that would make a good motif,” Heider said. “We had one of our employees mock up a logo, the same one who did our Guild Hall logo, and we fell in love with it.”
“Also, let’s be clear,” Ivey said, “I couldn’t love dragons more.”
Plans for the space will continue to evolve over the summer, including an overhaul of the patio area outside. Ivey said they’ve already booked their first band, Bit Brigade, that plays rock versions of video game theme songs while one member plays in sync with the actual game.
Heider and Ivey said they hope the space further broadens the ecosystem they’ve helped build to foster creativity and fun.
“We wanted to give our members and the community the chance to help make it what they wanted it to be,” Heider said.