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‘It’s such a friendly place and a lovely atmosphere’: Geek Retreat celebrates its six month birthday in Cwmbran town centre

mum and son at table in board game shop
Jo Lewis and her son, Gwylwm, who loves playing Pokemon in Geek Retreat

Geek Retreat in Cwmbran town centre celebrates its sixth month birthday in Cwmbran on Christmas Day.

It’s a cafe where you play board games for free. Customers of all ages turn up and join in a game with others, arrange to meet their friends or come along on a particular night and enjoy playing in an event with a focus on a particular game.

Nick Dummett, owner of Geek Retreat Cwmbran
Nathan Dummett, owner of Geek Retreat Cwmbran

Nathan Dummett, the owner of the shop on North Walk, said he’s proud of how his business has brought people together and created communities. He previously worked as a car parts salesperson and saw an opportunity to combine a love of board games with a new career.

He said: “I play pretty much all the games you see here, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon. I love board games.

“To get out of the 9-5 and do something like this is great. What we are trying to do is build a community in Cwmbran. We have some really good communities for all the games we play here. It’s predominately a cafe and we play games and stuff. We have free to play board games, free to read comic books and all things like that.

“That’s all we ask is that while you are in here just buy a food or drink item while you’re playing the games to keep us going while you’re having fun.

“There is no table hire or anything like that, it’s just pop down and grab a table and play a game.”

I spotted a mum and her son at one table. It was eight-year-old Gwylwm and his mum Jo Lewis, his mum. She said: “Since the pandemic, Gwylwm has not wanted to go anywhere. This place opened and he really likes Pokemon cards. So we come every Thursday and Saturday to Pokemon club and any other chance he can get to come here. He absolutely loves it. It’s such a friendly place and a lovely atmosphere.”

two men play board games
Nathan at one of the tables with Thomas Murdie

‘Playing at a table rather than online’

Nathan said: “It’s been great, building the communities has been lovely to see. Building the community has been the best part of it. It’s really good fun.

“I think especially coming out of Covid, people want to sit at a table and play games again rather than online. I can’t get over the communities that we’ve built for all the trading games

“The popularity of Dungeon and Dragons at the moment is going up because of shows like Stranger Things. It’s been really good. One of our busiest nights is Thursday when we play Dungeons & Dragons.”

two men play board games
(l to r) Daniel Behan and Alex Austwick

Throughout the week the shop holds event nights but you can turn up at anytime to play whatever you want.

He said: “We have an events schedule but it’s not a strict schedule- come in any time and play it (any game). There will be more wider players on a certain night. We’ve had a really good turnout for our board night on a Tuesday, Warhammer on a Sunday and quiz on a Saturday.

“Pokemon is by far the most popular thing at the moment. It wasn’t a couple of years ago but now it’s coming back and it’s really popular again.”

‘Getting people out of the house’

“It’s getting people out of the house who want to come down and make new friends, and again coming back to the communities.”

The shop also has a (free to use) arcade machine, Xbox and PlayStation.

two board game characters on a table
Thomas Murdie at one of the tables in Geek Retreat Cwmbran

Food band donation point

The shop is now a drop-off point for donations to the Eastern Valley Food Bank. Nathan said they are holding some events to encourage more donations. Pop in the shop during opening hours and you can leave your donation behind the counter.

Opening hours of Geek Retreat Cwmbran

  • Monday to Friday- 12pm to 10pm
  • Saturday- 10pm to 8pm
  • Sunday- 12pm to 6pm

Contact Geek Retreat Cwmbran

Food and drinks

Nathan and his staff serve soft drinks, milkshakes, coffees and a wide range of food including breakfast, burgers, jacket potatoes and snacks,

a menu a menu a menu

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‘It’s such a friendly place and a lovely atmosphere’: Geek Retreat celebrates its six month birthday in Cwmbran town centre