UberDork Cafe – a project worth backing and an interview with Natali, the UberDork herself

As a fellow Dork, Geek, Gamer and any number of other labels, I’m really excited about this project.  Natali is launching an amazing sounding Cafe, called the UberDork Cafe.  What makes it awesome? It’s geek centric, features happy meals for adults, has a gaming room and also a classroom.  If that’s not enough, it’s Natali’s dream to make this a truly family friendly establishment.  That means kid friendly activities, a place where others won’t scowl at you when you arrive with your 4 year old and of course, good food for the whole family.

As a lifelong gamer, who’s getting a bit older and also has kids, this sounds like a great idea!

Natali is in then process of raising $5000 for seed money via Kickstarter.  I’m proud to say that I am backing this project and I would recommend to anyone who thinks this is a good idea that they become a backer as well.  Buy in is as simple as $1.  If the project succeeds, you pay your money and get a reward. If the project does not reach or exceed it’s funding goal, you owe nothing and receive no reward.   Also, by way of disclosure (and self promotion) I should also mention that I’m a Kickstarter user myself with my own Aruneus Project.

I’ve been talking with Natali since I came across the UberDork Cafe by chance. She’s certainly got the drive to make this project succeed!  I’ve asked her a few questions about the UberDork Cafe and her plans.

1. What prompted you to start this project?

I’m a single mom with two insanely geeky lil girls. Geeklings that like to go out and do stuff. Well, when I was looking around for stuff for us to do, I realized there was no real “home base” for us to hang. Someplace that appealed to both grown ups and kids, the geeky and the creative.. So, it got me thinking. Long story short, I decided that it was time that people like us had a place and I would create it.

2. Who will be managing the cafe, doing the cooking, supplying games, etc?

That would be me. 🙂 I have amazing friends that have offered to step up and help out hands-on in the cafe with everything. This is like my third child though, so I am going to be hands on with EVERYTHING that it entails. I want to hang out here too!

3. Can you give us a hint as to what we may find in the menu?

The menu will start out pretty simplistic but fun. I have some “happy meals” for grown ups because we deserve toys too! Bacon pancakes shaped like Darth Vader, Lemon Ade called “Lemming Aid”, a basic coffee shop type menu, with a twist. There will also be a giant cooler that remains stocked with soda, energy drinks etc and baskets of chips and snacky “gamer food” available as well.

4. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome to get the UberDorkCafe off the ground, other than money?

Money is definitely the biggest. Location would be next. Finding the absolute perfect spot, which I am getting closer to doing. IN my head I can see it all laid out and I need a place I can turn into that picture. The moral support from people that believe in me and believe in this has been beyond awesome. They truly make me realize, I can and will do this, regardless of any hurdles that get tossed my way. It’s just a matter of when. The more support over the big hurdles, the quicker I open.

5. What’s your favorite video game?  How about board or RPG game?

Jinkies! This is a tough one? Are we talking of all time? Currently? There are so many for so many different reasons. Video game wise I’m going to go old school. Mortal Kombat will always be a turning point for me in my life. Up to that game, I was kind of a hidden gamer girl. When MK came out, my guy friends who gamed finally asked me to play with them. In their head they figured “oh fighting game, we can totally practice on her because she’s not going to be a threat.” That lasted all of round 1. I was then accepted as one of them. Ok, until I became the fatality pro. They were not so happy then. If I bring up MK, I have to bring up Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy has long been somewhat of my comfort blanket when it comes to gaming.  So, yeah, those are the two that have nurtured my inner gaming girl from lil on.

6. How long have you fostered this idea?

Honestly, it has been in me for the last two years. It started small and has just grown and formed into what it is today. It took me a long time to actually have the courage to bring my ideas to others and move forward to make this a reality.

7. When would you like to see the Cafe open it’s doors?

Ideally, I would like to see it open it’s doors this fall. Once the weather starts turning colder here, there are fewer and fewer options of things to do, places to go. My youngest turns 5 right before Thanksgiving and she really wants to have her birthday part there. I so want to make that happen for her.

8. Would you consider a carrot + pineapple smoothy called “the Rust Monster”?

Hee hee absolutely!! That is a great idea! I’m all about having my DnD peeps represented on the menu as well as in the cafe.’

9. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars, hands down! I dig Star Trek, but I LOVE Star Wars. 🙂

10. Give us one more motivating reason to back the cafe that isn’t listed on your Kickstarter page!

If you check out the updates on the Kickstarter page, you will read this, but it’s a really important.  Yes, this is something that started with me and my daughters. But, it is FOR ALL OF US. There are two reasons for this.. The first is the scholarships that UberDork Cafe will give annually. I am such a strong believer in my geek/nerd/dork community. I believe in nurturing it’s future and helping to provide an opportunity for it to continue to grow. The second continues on with my belief in my community. One of the most amazing parts of this Kickstarter journey has been the people have come forward with their stories. Stories that have hit home for me. While society has claimed to finally accept those like us, there are many that hide who they are. They hide their Spawn figurines when dates come over, that would never admit to standing in line at a GameStop until midnight for that new game, that sit in basements rolling their die. We shouldn’t have to hide. We should be able to have a place that we can go that we can feel comfortable being who we are, waving our little flags. A place where everyone knows your gamertag.

It has to start somewhere. Why not Milwaukee? After this one launches and remains successful, there will be others. This is just the beginning. So, if you believe in your community, if you want a place where you can go and just be you, if you want to see our community grow and take pride in who we are, this is where you can make that happen. Even just $1.00 at a time.

Shamelessly ripped directly from the UberDork Cafe Kickstarter page:

What is UberDork Cafe?

In essence, UberDork Cafe is Art + Science= Geek in a family-friendly environment that supports local vendors and artists, the earth and gives back to the community not only by providing a safe place for youth to play and learn, but also in financially assisting future Art + Science= Geeks.

Café- Yuppers there will be coffee, geeky baked goodness and a simple but delish menu. Complete with grown up “happy meals.” Which I will of course have to change the name of so Mc Donald’s doesn’t try to sue my lil ole self. But, us grown ups deserve toys too!

Family-Friendly- Having a kid’s menu, some crayons and high chairs doesn’t necessarily mean kid-friendly. The goal is to have them, have families, feel welcomed. The plan is to have an actual kid’s section. Optional of course. But, an area where kids can sit and eat and play. With a menu that is more than just chicken fingers and fries.

Supporting Local Vendors and Artists- While my motivation may have been my daughters, it’s all about my community as well. The goal is to use as many local vendors as possible. To showcase local artists and talent as well. Whether it’s someone guest-teaching a class, hosting a local knitting group, a comic artist lecture or meet and greet or allowing local artists to exhibit and sell their works, there will be much opportunity to support the great vendors and artists that my community (both in location and in spirit) has to offer.

The Earth- UberDork Café will strive to be the greenest business it can be in every sense of the environmental term.

Safe Place to Play and Learn- Besides the café section, the other two parts that make up UberDork Café are a game room and a classroom. Play is an important part of life that we adults tend to lose sight of as we grow. One of my goals is to not only nurture that play but bring it back to those that have forgotten it. No matter what your controller of choice looks like, no matter how many sides your favorite die has, no matter how your board is shaped, UberDork Café will embrace and try to offer it. Come roll how you want to roll. Play how you want to play. And for those of you who may have forgotten, there will be classes. Art and science classes that families can take together, adults and kids may take alone and all will be adaptable to those with special needs. (I was once a special ed art teacher. It was also one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.) And if you’ve been eying up a 360 but have never owned a console before, well we’ll give ya an intro to it. Always wanted to tackle DnD but were scared to be a noob? We’ll cover ya too.

Financially Assisting Future Art + Science = Geeks- I’m a giver. It’s just part of who I am and one of my favorite parts of my goal with UberDork Café is to help foster our future. Each year, UberDork Café will offer three scholarships. They may not be huge at first, but hopefully they will grow. The basic criteria to qualify for these scholarships are simple. 1. The student has to be from the inner city. The reasoning behind this is I want to support those that are often under-supported. Those that often get lost in the shuffle. Those that could use someone to look them in the eye and say “I believe in you.” 2. The student must be going on to pursue further schooling in: Video Game Design/Development, Science and lastly a Geek Girl.

What Will Your Backing Do?

It will literally kick start this dream into physical reality. The money will go toward the business essentials (i.e. licensing costs, permits, etc), necessary start-up supplies and first month’s rent. My goal is set at $5,000 as it is a reasonably obtainable goal that would make a significant impact on bringing UberDork Cafe to fruition. Now if you’re new to Kickstarter, here’s the deal- if I fail to reach my goal, then I don’t get any money. You are also NOT charged though. So, if I fail, you are not out any money. The wonderful flipside- if I make MORE than my goal, UberDork Cafe gets it all. Realistically, my goal of $5,000 is roughly 1/3 of what I need to open right quick. So, the more I raise above the goal, the sooner you can all come hang out at UberDork Cafe!! 🙂

And jinkies I can’t wait for you to be able to do that!

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