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New arcade bar bringing ‘nerd culture’ to downtown Gainesville
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Kyle Dillard, left, and Ethan Moore, are opening The Tipsy Gamer, a new trading card store and arcade bar in downtown Gainesville in mid-February. - photo by Scott Rogers

Looking to play some video games, grow your trading card collection and widen your circle of friends over a glass of beer? Downtown Gainesville will soon be home to such a place.

Located at 224 Main St. off the Gainesville square, The Tipsy Gamer is slated to open later this month, marking the entrepreneurial debut of Ethan Moore and Kyle Dillard — childhood best friends who say their love for video games and trading cards began when they were 5 years old.

“We’d have Hi-C and play Nintendo 64,” Dillard said.

The two noted that up until now, the hobby hasn’t been devoid of travel, as the quest for Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards or tabletop gaming groups often takes locals to Buford, Cumming and beyond to Atlanta and the World Wide Web.

“Now we can bring it to central Gainesville,” Dillard said.

“Our generation likes instant gratification,” Moore added. “I wanted something more local, and I’m sure everyone else does, too, instead of having to drive all over the place,” Moore said. “I know there’s a lot of people around just like me and I thought, ‘Maybe I could do something like that for Gainesville.’”

According to Moore, the space will be divided into two main parts, with trading cards staking claim of the front retail area and arcade mainstays like Pac Man, Galaga, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat set up in back with gaming consoles, virtual reality headsets and a bar area stocked with beer, wine, sodas and energy drinks.

“We stuck to the classics,” Moore said.

The arcade bar is also equipped with a space for tabletop games, in which Dillard hopes to one day host tournaments as well as movie and trivia nights — and, ultimately, a place where gamers can find community.

“In our friend group, there’s five of us, and one of the things that really bonded us all together was video games,” Dillard said. “That feeling of family was my whole reason of doing it”

While The Tipsy Gamer won’t be dealing in comic books — they’re leaving that to Wizards Video Games on Washington Avenue — the owners will happily supply some dialogue on the topic.

“I’m a huge comic book nerd — I’m into comics probably even more than video games or cards,” Dillard said. “We’re trying to reach a large variety of people to connect with. We want people to feel comfortable and safe here. It’s a big nerd culture. Anything from cards to video games to tabletop, even if you want to come in here and just talk anime with us or talk comic books, we can do that, too.”

Both born and raised in Hall County, Moore and Dillard left behind careers in the restaurant and security services industries to take a risk on a lifelong dream.

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Kyle Dillard, left, and Ethan Moore, are opening The Tipsy Gamer, a new trading card store and arcade bar in downtown Gainesville in mid-February. - photo by Scott Rogers

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I just went for it,” Moore said “It’s been kind of crazy the last three or four months. This is new to me; I was a manager at Outback for the last five years, so I know how business works, but I don’t know how to start one, so this has been a new experience. (We’ve had) a couple hurdles, but we’ve gotten over all of them. We’re just here every day grinding it out.”

Once the necessary alcohol licensure is secured, The Tipsy Gamer will be open noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

“Get your video game hands ready,” Dillard said.