Turning a love of board games into a thriving business might sound like an unlikely plan, but wherever there’s passion, a world of like-minded souls and eager followers usually shows up.
So much came out of lockdown, not least the chance to sit and think about the future. And there was little else to do for best friends Rhys Whiteside and Jim Beasley, given their careers in the theatre.
With plays cancelled and venues closed, actor Rhys and stage technician Jim – who first met at The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill – had plenty of time on their hands. And while indulging their board game passions, they began asking each other, “what comes next?”
After scouring the world of games cafe franchises, they set their sights on opening a Geek Retreat in Reigate. Loving its open and friendly culture, they knew it was perfect for bringing their welcoming thespian spirit to Reigate. And in March 2022, they realised their dream and threw open their doors on West Street.
We spoke to Rhys to get all the goss.
Geek retreat in Reigate is born
“No matter who you are and whatever game you’re into, we’re here to accommodate you,” says Rhys, and he’s not wrong. There are games for absolutely everyone, from classics like Monopoly, Cluedo, and Snakes & Ladders, to the latest new obsessions like Wingspan and Bellum Magica. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve got tabletop video games too!
Geek Retreat also stocks comics and toys, which makes it a one-stop-shop for all things geek. You can either turn up and play on a whim or join one of their many weekly gaming events. You’ll find everything from grown-up chess to Pokemon!
The cafe brings an American diner-style menu straight to your table, with a range of burgers, hot dogs, nachos and shakes, all with vegan options. With refuelling on-demand and on-site, you’ll never need to interrupt a high-spirited session when the munchies strike!
Rhys is over the moon with how things have started. “The opening day was a great success. We’ve had a lovely reaction from everyone who’s come in and they all said it’s a great addition to the high street.”
Both have a long history with this corner of the country. After growing up in Crawley, Rhys went away to study and then toured with the theatre in Germany for a few years. In 2018, he settled in Reigate to raise a family within reach of London for auditions.
Meanwhile, and not to be outdone, Jim has moved to Reigate twice! First, when he was eight, after an early childhood in Barnet. Then he returned in 2014 to follow his love for the neighbourhood and the easy access to London’s theatre scene.
Like everyone we talk to, they’re both bowled over by the local community and inclusive nature. “Whether it’s going for a walk in Priory Park or Earlswood Lakes, or seeing a show or film at The Harlequin Theatre, one of the things I love about the area is how everything is so family-friendly.”
And from the way Rhys says it, you can tell he’s not playing games.
Geek Retreat Reigate
9-11 West Street