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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

GuildHall: How Is The First eSports Bar In Burbank?

by Editor Jonathan Bilski 

Sun-Thurs 11:30 am - 12:00 am
Fri-Sat       11:30 am - 2:00 am
3516 W Victory Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505 

(818) 561-4552 

Over the weekend I tried out Burbank's and possibly California's first eSports Bar, 21+. It's a little bit hidden on a side street on the way to Fry's Burbank, but that's one of its charms. Not that far from everything else in Burbank and The Backwoods Maze, come October 13, is a place you can grab a drink, grab a board game and watch League of Legends.

Is Spencer a Dream Daddy?
I met with owner Spencer Cox, who showed me his only six-weeks-old bar, sat down for some food and some drinks and played some games. 
It's also a specialty drink

I was surprised. This eSports bar had been on my radar for a few weeks now. A place to watch video game streams, but it's not an arcade? It wasn't like the other bar models out there going for nostalgia. This place wanted to look modern and inviting and it does both.

Spencer, started telling me about the place, and how gamers are usually marketed at, "Like eating Doritos and Mountain Dew," he told me. But that's not how Spencer and his friends socialize, that get craft beer when they're out gaming and get wine when they play D&D, which is encouraged to play at GuildHall.

Spencer told me about a fifteen-person sewing circle that had just came in a few days ago, before going back into how his bar is different for gamers. He told about his eleven year experience in the restaurant industry and how it helped him make the bar.

As we were talking a rowdy group was playing Cards Against Humanity next to rowdy you can get playing it. If fact, Spencer said no one has been asked to leave or nothing has gotten out-of-hand since opening.

Is it because he's streaming games and not fights? "So we stream games exclusively on the televisions. We don't actually have cable at all," he tells me. He explains his set-up allows for three different streams to be played on the multiple TV's throughout the bar. So if you ask nicely and there isn't a big championship, they might go to what stream you want.

When I was there hardly anyone was even looking up as they were too engrossed in the board games. Like Game Haus out in Glendale there's a sizable collection of board games and card games to choose from. Free of charge, as long as you order something from the bar. Be it food or drink, you have access to a wide selection of games while watching someone play Super Mario Maker. Spencer, "There's about 150 games to choose from. And you can bring in your own games too."

What I was told then sort of blew me away for a eSports bar, no wi-fi, no PC games. Yeah, this is a place to watch eSports, not play them. There's been some exceptions so far with the 3DS and the Switch. But don't think about bringing a laptop or a LAN party. If you want to play something, play it analog.

"No trivia night, no karaoke," Spencer tells me. He wants his place just to be a bar. A place his patrons know they can just come to and take out a board game and relax.

So what about drinks? Spencer says, "So we have a full bar, an extensive cocktail list and back bar, whiskey focused. Sixteen beers on tap from local LA breweries." He then told me some of the specially name cocktails, "They're subtle nerd references...The Heart of Gold is/was an item from League of Legends, but it's also the spaceship from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I suggest for you to try The Doom.

If you wonder why the place looks so nice, thanks Spencer's Dad. Spencer told us his old man literally helped make the place, his Dad owned a set design shop for years. So much of the bar is customized. "He made the tables, he made the bar, he made this whole cabinet (game cabinet)," Spencer was pointing around Guild Hall telling me. By the way, the tables he's referring to are quite oversized for both a board game to be played on and for food. In the back there's ground level tables for playing too. There's quite a lot of space to play games.

Before we started playing some games Spencer had the Chef whip up some things from the menu. We got a taste of the House-Made Potato Chips and the Buffalo Chicken Strips with some Hummus and Pita. All great food to go with your drinks. There's also the Guildhall Juicy Lucy an 8 oz all-natural Angus patty stuffed with smoked white cheddar. Salads for the vegetarians/vegans.

On staff, Spencer revealed many candidates gave nerd resumes with their regular ones, someone going so far as Spencer told it, "Breaking themselves down as a D&D character. Saying they had 12 strength, 14 charisma, 12 wisdom (+2 for work experience)." No, sadly, they weren't hired. He only got to interview ten percent of those who applied to work at GuildHall.

What about parking? Don't worry. Though they don't have their own lot there's plenty of street parking nearby.

Reservations? Nope. They won't be holding tables for you. It's first come, first served. You can always call ahead to see how busy it is or if any big events are going to be happening. Other than that, you gotta roll the dice.

Down the road, there may be a cosplay Halloween night, but that's still in the planning stages.

GuildHall is another great edition to Burbank and the greater LA area. It has a modern fun feel inside and a sociable atmosphere. A place you can unwind with friends, watch someone play video games and play board games yourself. It's sound pretty nice for the modern gamer.