By Morgan Bryce
Nearly a year ago, Nigel and Leilani Mongerie took their passion for video games and anime-comic books and a dream of opening their own business to create NERDtorch Cafe in downtown Opelika.
According to Nigel, the main goal of NERDtorch was to tap into a growing community in Alabama deserving of a place to call their own.
“I looked at NERDtorch Cafe as an opportunity to create something that could be a positive thing in the nerdy community. The nerdy community and it’s fans are massively underrepresented and underestimated in the state of Alabama,” Nigel said. “I started NERDtorch Cafe so that I could create place where people can be as nerdy, goofy and as weird as they want to be without any judgement or criticism.”
Through a “living room type atmosphere,” NERDtorch members and guests can play the latest hit games on the newest gaming platforms, or take a trip down memory lane by playing on the Nintendo GameCube and Sega Genesis systems.
Comic and board game enthusiasts are also provided sit-down areas to discuss their latest readings and enjoy a friendly, conversation-sparking environment, according to Nigel.
“A lot has changed, but at the same time, it’s all the same. I think the biggest difference is how many people who have settled in to making this place their home away from home, (and) in a way, the main thing that’s constantly changing is the ways we make people feel more and more welcome,” Nigel said. “We have a growing Dungeons and Dragons group who are very welcoming and nurturing to new players, and we even started doing game design classes for people who are interested in getting into that as a profession. We are constantly learning how can we bring more value to the community.”
Funds from NERDtorch are used to finance Nigel’s dream of starting a multimedia platform that will produce both comic books and 3-D films.
Future opportunities for NERDtorch members will include an increased amount of video game tournaments, “nerdy” conventions and Comic Con.
Reflecting on the last year of being in business, Nigel describes the experience as an incredible experience.
“The journey has been amazing. We’ve met a lot of people done a lot of cool things and grown so much together as a community,” Nigel said. “I don’t think I can really pick a favorite memory. It’s all been so great. It’s a blessed journey overall to say the least.”
NERDtorch also offers concessions, t-shirts and other merchandise for sale during operating hours.
Membership plans include a one-day pass for $10, $25 for the standard/monthly pass, and $250 for a yearlong pass.
For more information, visit www.indietorch.net/nerdtorchcafe or email Nigel at firstname.lastname@example.org. The business is open 6 p.m. – midnight Monday-Saturday.