Entrepreneur sets up healing process at game lounge / restaurant in Nyack

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Dragon Den & Dungeon Hall catching the growing movement of players on paper and pen

By Tina Traster

What do games tell us?

Monopoly is the crash course of capitalism. Failures train us to think two steps at the same time. Dungeons & Dragons frees the imagination, giving us the right to imagine a world of our own creation and to manipulate circumstances.

For Mike Carr, playing Dungeons & Dragons turned out to be more than a game. At first, it freed him from the deep depression he suffered during an excruciating recovery from back surgery. It was therapy. Then he turned into a teacher, in a way, leading him on an entrepreneurial adventure combining play and food.

Carr is the owner of the newly opened Dragon Den and Dungeon Hall at 102 Main Street in Nyack – a pen and paper tabletop gaming lounge and eclectic restaurant, perhaps the only one of its kind in the county. The Cavernous Space is a hangout for players of all ages with offerings ranging from old-school scrabble and chess to D&D, Kitan Mortal Kombat, and Magic The Gathering Arena. It’s also a restaurant for foodies looking to indulge their palate, serving everything from campfire s’mores, fried cauliflower, edamame, macaroni and cheese, burgers and coffees. House.

Carr, a beefy 35-year-old who cut his teeth in the auto and construction industry, took a leap of faith with Dragon Den and Dungeon Hall, which opened during the pandemic. He says there’s a growing appetite to stop screen time and re-engage in a tactile, social world.

“There is a resurgence of interest in board games that started in 2017,” Carr said. “People are fed up with staring at their screens all day. Board games force people to think about math, reading, social situations. This resurgence is a backlash to the control of our lives by our devices. “

Five years ago, Carr had emergency back surgery. He had trained at New England Tech in West Palm Beach in automotive technology and had done physical labor for several years. The injury forced him to lie in bed for three months, sending him into a deep run. What freed him from his darkest days was an online D&D group.

“It got me back to the world,” Carr said. “I have never heard of D&D before my surgery. I was a sportsman growing up. I did sport. But I discovered Critical Role and D&D and started bingeing for hours. It blew me away. I found a supportive community. People from all walks of life. It got me out of my room. It allowed me to escape for hours at a clip.

As Carr healed, her newfound passion was a game-changer – literally.

“I knew I couldn’t work in my career anymore,” he said. “I lost a lot of flexibility; I knew that on the road I would have more back problems.

Online games have immersed Carr in a role-playing world, which has literally taught her to reinvent herself and reinvent her career. He started to write a business plan. “I knew there were a few of these concepts all over the country, but nothing like it here in the Hudson Valley,” he said. “Most people who want to play games go to comic book stores or Hobby Town, but I wanted to make something more accessible, something that included food.”

For three years, Carr planned her moves, day trading for money, seeking funding, observing tea leaves. In April 2020, just as COVID was shutting down the world, Carr saw an opportunity. “I looked at the trade reports and thought the banks were giving loans to help stimulate the economy; they were open to new businesses.

With a combination of a personal loan, lines of credit and savings, Carr rolled the dice, investing nearly $ 300,000 to build the 3,600 square foot gaming lounge / restaurant in a location that had been vacant for many years. several years. Carr leased the site for five years, with renewal options. The restaurant / game lounge opened in March.

“I’m a bit of a history nut,” Carr said. “The way I saw it, the people who make it big are the people who take their chances at big world events. In the 1920s, during the Great Depression, people became steel millionaires. It’s like the stock market.

Dragon Den & Dungeon Hall has 14 employees, including two dungeon masters who facilitate the games. The gaming spot attracts everyone, from 18-year-olds who hardly ever leave their rooms to retirees looking for a game of chess or dominoes. There’s no target market, says Carr, who completes the offering with game nights, chess and dominoes tournaments, and magic nights.

Since opening her doors, Carr has learned that games are an attraction, but food primarily generates income.

“At the end of the day, this place is a restaurant,” Carr said. “It is our bread and our butter.”

Carr recognizes that her business is a stressful one that will take time to prepare and grow. He is looking for a potential business partner, or investors.

“I have a lot of skin in this game,” said Carr. “We’ll see what works. We are going to modify the menus. We learn to manage a restaurant while managing a restaurant. We will make mistakes. As long as they don’t kill me, we’ll learn from them.

The game has taught the entrepreneur to be resilient, to think before taking the next step.

“It’s like D&D. You spend months building a character, getting attached, and then you make a mistake and the character dies. Made. Completely gone. We must mourn and move on. Just like in real life. You have to move forward. “

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