So, last night (Dec. 28th) my youngest sister and I went to the pub owned by a friend of hers, the Geeks Public House on Duckworth St. in St. John’s.
As many of you probably know, bars and pubs can be nightmares for autistics, between the screens, the lighting, the volume of the music (whether live, on TV, or from CDs or the radio). However, Geeks Public House is specifically designed by the owner to be a quiet, accessible space – essentially a board game café that’s actually a bar rather than a café. (And unfortunately, given it’s in what was an old house on Duckworth Street, it doesn’t have the greatest physical accessibility; there are no ramps, and the stairs can be a bit steep.)
I was rather looking forward to it (especially after being at Ben’s Bar in Churchill Square the night before for a cousins’ night, and having live music played there; the songs were ones I like, but the volume was horrendous and the only reason I stayed past the first few minutes was that I wanted to spend time with my cousins). Said youngest sister (aka the SLP sister rather than the teacher sister) had promised to “kidnap” me there sometime while she was down here for the Christmas/winter holidays.
We headed down about 7-ish, 7:30-ish. Had a hard time finding a parking spot (downtown St. John’s on a night when the bars and pubs would be open, not entirely a surprise), but after two circuits of that area of Duckworth, Cathedral, Prescott, and Water Streets, we got one reasonably close by. (And then had to climb Cathedral St. to get the car when heading home!)
It was very quiet when we walked in (and yes, the sign on the door is a deliberate call-back to Cheers), and all dark wood and SF/Fantasy/Anime/Gaming (Board, Video, and RPG) decor. (Most – if not all – of which is made by the owner, Jerry.) When you first enter the building door, there’s a washroom door (see below) right in front of you, stairs (to the quiet rooms on the second floor) to the right, and an open door to the left that leads to the first floor game area and the bar area.
Jerry kindly took us on a quick tour of the place, including the room where the Inaugural Harry Potter Yule Ball – complete with the Goblet of Fire – was held two weeks ago; most of the decorations were still up. Also the three main rooms on the second floor – two have video game consoles, the third has a TV (in case you want to watch a video). There’s also books and manga, though they were blocked off because they had to be moved out of the way for the aforementioned Yule Ball. The third also has a wall you can scribble whatever on. (No pictures of the second floor, I’m afraid.)
Now, this is a pub, so you also want to know about drinks. They have a non-alcoholic selection – ideal for me, since I can’t stand the taste of alcohol – including non-alcoholic beers, and from a company in Richmond, QC, called Bull’s Head, they have ginger beer (spicier than ginger ale – I wanted to try it until I got a sample near my nose), ginger ale, ginger green tea, and possibly a few others I didn’t try.
As for alcoholic drinks, they have cocktails (including butterbeer, pan-galactic gargle blaster – which is a lemon something sour, and a few others appropriately named); a number of beers on draft or in bottles/canned (local ones on draft); and a set of 19 themed shots (including such luminaries as: Mudblood; 42; Gallifreyan Sunrise; Tardis; Iron Man; Captain America; Unicorn Tears; Winter Walker; Dark Side; and others), with the twentieth option being a double shot. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, the bar has a large d20 that you roll to pick your shot!
My sister also said that she noticed a box of chai tea, but I’m not sure if that was for a mixed drink, was a personal thing for staff, or was available for purchase – if it is, that’s what I’ll have next time. I prefer not to drink that much soda.
The only food they had was concession-type food (chips, Twizzlers, Smarties, etc.), but you’re in downtown St. John’s – two groups went out to grab takeout at one of the many restaurants within a few blocks of Geeks Pub during the time we were there last night. And as my sister pointed out tonight, you can also just order via Skip The Dishes.
So, what did we spend our first hour doing?
Then some friends of my sister from when she was here in undergrad showed up – all of whom had been with her in linguistics, and went in to some form of speech pathology – and there was chatting with them. After that, we wandered down to the bar, and spent the rest of the four or so hours we spent there chatting to people at the bar, including the owner. I had a really good time.
Around about sometime a bit after 11 the discussion at the bar got mildly loud, so we left around 11:20 – but until then (and in the other areas of the pub) it was nicely quiet. Apparently week nights tend to be more like that than weekends, but given the weather here over the last week and the fact that most people were probably still spending family time, not a huge surprise that the crowd wasn’t bigger last night.
And people, I have to show you the picture I took of the door to the washrooms (which are two small rooms off the tiny hall the door leads to, with microfibre towels rather than paper towels to dry your hands).
This –^ gets a huge *thumbs up* from me. Especially considering that part of the reason I went there was to get an idea of what the atmosphere there would be like for an autistic, and we know that a lot of autistics are often somewhere in the LGBTQIA2+ group (hope I included all the appropriate initials!). That sort of thing is always welcome.
So overall, I would say that Geeks Public House gets a definite two thumbs up from me. Physical accessibility isn’t great, and that’s the main thing that I would like to see improved, but in every other way this is definitely somewhere I will come again. I might get to see the cousins who live here more if I introduce them to Geeks Pub, because that could be somewhere we can meet and chat, and I won’t be fighting off sensory overload the entire time!
Starting in January, there is going to be a cover charge for the use of the upstairs rooms – $5 (and I got the impression that that doesn’t include events, which have separate ticket sales). You can also get an annual “membership” for $50 that will negate the cover charge, give you first shot at tickets for the various events they run, 10% off event tickets, and other advantages (preliminary details here). I’ll be putting that on my birthday wish list (because I will be less likely to be down there during the winter, rather than a coffee shop – though I may wander in occasionally to get some writing done in the new year…).
Edit 2022-05-21: Unfortunately, it turns out that the Geeks Pub has shut down (likely due to problems thanks to the effects of COVID-19). But I’ll be leaving this post up as an exemplar of an excellent space for autistics and others affected by sensory issues!