Local gaming cafe grows over pandemic

Nexus gaming cafe offers a place for people passionate about videogames meet others with shared interests. Courtesy photo

By Brennen Dimarzo | Staff Writer

Cafes aren’t just for coffee dates and homework anymore. Since opening in 2017, the Nexus Esports gaming cafe located at 600 Columbus Ave. has continued to improve its center and become a hub for all things gaming and esports.

Zach Krizan, owner of Nexus Esports, said he started this venture to capture the memory of hanging out with friends as a kid.

“I was a competitive gamer growing up, and we used to love hanging out in places like this,” Krizan said. “We wanted to create something with a modern feel.”

The cafe has since found its niche in Waco by offering a place for people to play video games and meet others who share their passion.

“You get in here and you realize that our gear and internet is top of the line, and then [you] realize the atmosphere around [you] as well,” said John Solis, assistant manager. “It is a much cheaper way to upgrade your experience. You can pay $30 to $40 to get a $1,000 experience.”

While gaming may not appeal to everyone, many of the staff have said they noticed the experience has been able to reach multiple different communities. Baylor alumnus, Sam Lin, said he tells parents and grandparents who bring their kids in to try the food or the free retro games.

“One of the biggest reasons I have stayed in esports is because it is a community that people need to know more about,” Lin said. “I am trying to open it up so people see more sides and there is something for everyone.”

The cafe was in the midst of upgrading its menu when COVID-19 first hit. What was once a setback, Solis said, is now one of the features of the cafe. The new sandwich shop, Savepoint, is located inside of the cafe and offers a multitude of freshly made sandwiches.

“Our menu was very basic, none had names. We just had a turkey club,” Solis said about the pre-pandemic shop. “We hired a local artist and he made us a new sign. Then, me and the guys got together to create all the names for the sandwiches.”

Along with their upgraded menu, the cafe has acquired in-house vendors to sell different products to its customers such as playing cards and PC parts.

“The vendors started up this last quarter,” said Solis. “We started with Custom PC Waco and then moved into the Competitive Magic Company. I am also helping set up the Pokemon vendor.”

While the cafe has changed significantly since their opening, some customers are coming back for the same reason they always have.

“I like the environment. I like the whole vibe and being able to play games. I try to hook up with others here so we can play. I mostly come here for the social aspect,” customer Vlad Kalinin said.