Monday, March 20, 2023

The Basement, Toledo’s First Geekeasy

When you think of stereotypical nerds, you might imagine someone dwelling in a basement surrounded by monitors and books. A new bar, opening under The Distillery, puts a positive spin on that idea.

Toledo’s first “geekeasy” (read: nerd-centric underground bar/), The Basement, is literally in the basement of a well-known watering hole. Now sports talk and loud music are replaced by anime discussions and Doctor Who marathons.

Steve Wherry and Richard Culbertson, owners and creators of The Basement, met at The Distillery a few years ago. Richard, a bar manager, worked at The Distillery for eight years, and Steve hosts a weekly karaoke night. A few months ago an idea hit them. “It started as a joke, really,” Culbertson explains. “‘You know what Toledo doesn’t have? A nerd bar.’” That’s when the dream started, and it will become a reality on Sunday, February 3rd.

Level select

The story of The Basement reads like a Hollywood production. After discussing the concept with Wherry, Culbertson went to his boss Brian Pero (owner of The Distillery) to guage his interest in the idea. “It’s basically like asking your parents to take over the basement. I asked, and Brian said ‘if you clean it out, it’s yours’. He’s been very helpful in the whole process.”

That process started with a recently wrapped-up IndieGoGo campaign which brought in almost $12,000 for the bar, an amount that shocked the owners. “We initially chose $10,000 as the goal, because that sounded like a nice round number,” Wherry explained. “Then Toledo surprised us by coming out and giving 111%. 1% more than my gym teacher asked for.” Contributors received specialized pint glasses and names on bar stools.

Powering up

Wacky campaign prizes are just some of the geek-friendly fun the owners have planned. Board game and comic book collections are currently being purchased for use in the bar. Themed event nights (an Intergalactic Kegger acted as the soft opening for the bar on January 11th, and February 3rd brings Monsters Inc.), the feel of your parents’ brick-and-wood-paneled basement, a full bar more big-screen TVs (attached to gaming consoles) add to the mood.

No matter what kind of geekery you’re involved in, you’ll be welcome in The Basement. “We want to have the same kind of camaraderie that you see in sports bars,” Wherry said, “but with discussions over who shot first or who’s the best Enterprise captain.”

The Basement opens on Sunday, February 3rd.
Located under The Distillery, 4311 Heatherdowns Blvd.
Follow the bar’s progress on The Basement’s Facebook page,

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