For a big convention, there’s usually some place close to the convention center that offers deals to attendees, or maybe hosts a special night. If you take this idea, turbocharge it, engage the hyperdrive and push it until it goes plaid, you have what Scotty’s Brewhouse does for Gen Con. For the rest of the year, Scotty’s is a pub downtown proudly serving quality beer, drinks, and food. During Gen Con, they transform into something well beyond that.
How can an eatery relate to what gamers really enjoy? It’s really not that hard if the manager has been part of the gaming community himself. Dave Hornak was the owner of a game store in the southwest back in the early days of RPG gaming. He almost appeared in Dragon Magazine for his extensive collection of painted minis, but the article didn’t make the final cut for the issue. In 1988 he was a vendor at Gen Con. What better qualifications can you ask for when it comes to creating a great atmosphere for gamers attending the best four days in gaming? Sitting down and talking to him about Scotty’s plans, I could see that the passion is still there, coupled with the desire to make his establishment the undisputed place to be for all the convention’s attendees.
Every aspect of Scotty’s will have some gaming twist during Gen Con. To start with, there is a special Gen Con menu. Even more impressive, the author of the menu was also one of the authors of D&D. Wizards of the Coast is heavily involved in Scotty’s Gen Con plans this year, including the menu. While I spoke with Dave, I feasted on what will be known as the Elder Red Dragon chicken sandwich. I won’t spoil the description, because it’s a riot. This menu is going to be a lot of fun.
Moving beyond the menu, the placemats this year are being designed by Troll Lord Games. Each will be a fully playable dungeon adventure based on the restaurant layout. Yes, your placemat is a small RPG. Troll Lord Games also designed the brunch menu (available every day of Gen Con from 10 am to 1 pm).
The pub itself will have a lot of custom banners this year designed for specific placement in Scotty’s by the game companies themselves. As in previous years, there will be sci-fi/fantasy movies playing constantly on the many TV screens through Gen Con week. I got to take a peek at some of social media and menu art that you’ll see and I have to say it’s been turned up to 11 this year. Really quality stuff custom designed for Scotty’s by the gaming companies working with them.
For cosplayers or just those who enjoy a good show, the 501st Legion will be returning to Scotty this year, but in a much bigger way than last year. Twice a night the 501st will be putting on a show (about 5 minutes long) bringing the Star Wars universe right into the dining area. Be outside on the patio for this if it happens while you’re there. The Stormtroopers up on the balcony over the patio are going to have some great lines. There’s audience participation too, and one lucky audience member is going to walk away with a gift certificate each show.
That’s all nice, but what’s in it for me you ask? Loot, swag, filthy lucre! There’s lots of stuff to get. Ordering an item off the Gen Con menu will get you a collectible Scotty’s die. Each day, the color is going to change. If you go each day and collect Wednesday thru Saturday’s dice, you can take them to Fat Dragon Games booth in the exhibition hall and trade them in for a special Scotty’s and Fat Dragon Dungeon Master’s Screen. If you know Fat Dragon Games’ work, you’ll know that this isn’t a tri-fold piece of cardboard with some nice art. It’s a sculpture, complete with shelving and dice towers!
Want more D&D loot? Look for the QR code on the menu. It’ll lead you back to Wizards of the Coast’s booth in the exhibition hall for more special swag. Want a souvenir of the fun you had a Scotty’s? Pick up a T-shirt. This year’s shirt design is the label for Scotty’s special Gen Con brew: Long Fang Abbey Ale. Why not pick up a growler of the ale while you’re there too? Any of the gaming-themed items you buy can earn you a die (note: it is one per customer per visit. You can visit multiple times in a day to get multiple dice, but can’t order a menu item, growler and shirt and get 3 dice in a single visit). Did you miss one of the die colors, but want your DM screen or just that color die? Order the Bigby’s Crushing Burger (formerly the Big Ass Burger). If you can finish this monstrosity off you get to pick a die from that day or any of the previous days. This is not for those of limited consumptive ability: you’ll have to work for that die to in a consumptive (but delicious) challenge.
Don’t want to stop gaming at all, even to eat? You can game at Scotty’s. There will be at least two good-sized gaming areas set up. You might have to wait a bit, but you can get a gaming table. You can play your favorite game while eating and drinking. Scotty’s also features free wireless internet access, so if you need to get to online resources for your game you’re going to be able to. I asked Dave about the wait to get a table, and while they can’t take reservations you will be able to call ahead and get your name on the wait list before you head out. They’re working on getting a shuttle that’s constantly travelling the short distance between the convention center and the restaurant for the convenience of gamers, but that’s not certain yet. (It’s less than 4 blocks if you want to hit the streets.)
Ultimately, you’re going to a restaurant to enjoy the fare. Scotty’s serves pub grub, and has a very well stocked bar. They’re very proud that their food is made from scratch, not from any frozen pre-made items. The kitchens at Scotty’s were built to handle maximum capacity crowds, not average crowds so the wait will not be long (Dave estimated the longest wait last year to be about an hour). The signature items are the dill chips, the Shewman burger (with peanut butter and bacon!), the chicken sandwich that will be known as the Elder Red Dragon, and for dessert the peanut butter pie or the German chocolate cake made with the coconut replaced with Heath bar crumbles.
The bar has 27 beers available, so if you’re a beer drinker you’re going to be able to find something you enjoy. The Gen Con beer this year (Long Fang Abbey Ale) is brewed about 12 miles north of downtown at the Thr3e Wise Men microbrewery. I’ve sampled their beers, and I can safely say that the Long Fang will be a very high quality ale. I wish they were able to bring more of the Thr3e Wise Men brews, as they’re really fantastic. Scotty’s will also be the sole source for Rootjack Root Beer this year. You’ll be able to buy this Indiana-made Gen Con staple by the bottle, iced bottle, case (the case is another way to get a Scotty’s die) or in a selection of mixed drinks made with Rootjack.
One of the major concerns I’ve seen discussed this year is food allergies with heavy emphasis on Celiac’s disease. Scotty’s has a whole page of its menu dedicated to gluten-free fare. They also understand what it really takes to serve gluten-free. There is an entirely separate area of the kitchen for gluten-free preparation with its own utensils so there’s no cross contamination. Preparers are required to change their gloves prior to working in the gluten-free area. They’re not joking around with your health. They’ll also have cider on tap for those needing a gluten-free drinking option. Dave also said that just about any of their burgers can be made gluten-free on request.
Here’s a something not a lot of places will do during a convention: Scotty’s regular specials will not be stopped for Gen Con. If you go out on their website and see a regular weekly special, it will be available during Gen Con. This includes things like a 10% discount for lunch with Foursquare check-in. Dave was really hoping to get a Foursquare swarm going Wednesday and Saturday, so bring your smartphone.
Dave also filled me in on some of the scheduled events they’re having. Here’s a quick breakdown of Gen Con week:
- Tuesday: The Sci Fi movies start up and there will be a Gen Con meet-and-greet.
- Wednesday: Troll Lord Games brunch menu and Wizards of the Coast special menu start. Kentucky Fried Gamers, Pathfinder Society of Indianapolis, and Troll Lord games host gaming.
- Friday: After the ENnies, come for D&D pub trivia. Win more dice. Gaming with Drunk Ass Games. Dream Pod 9 hosts Meet the Makers – Challenge the creators of Heavy Gear Arena. 7-11 pm.
- Saturday: Author R. A. Salvatore of Forgotten Realms fame will be a Scotty’s.
That’s Scotty’s Brewpub. It’s almost a mini con location itself. Please check them out and support this business that’s trying hard to do something really special for gamers.