There is this small caffe in Zagreb, Croatia called Crni Ma?ak (Black Cat). It is a place where geeks hang out, play DnD, Magic the Gathering or just chat about geeky stuff. It’s a place where people gather for Pub Quizzes, where Trekkies have their night. It is a home away from home for many of us.

But COVID-19 pandemic has happened. By the order of the Croatian Government, all nonessential businesses had to close down a month ago. Now, the owners of the Black Cat Cafe are looking for help. They started a GoGetFunded Campaign to raise the funds for utillities, rent and other expenses to keep the cafe open.

I like going there with my friends. To chat, to talk about anime, or Star Trek, or Gundam, or any other geeky interest I have. To participate in Pub Quizzes on Star Wars Trivia, Harry Potter or Marvel Superheroes….

This is their plea:

We managed to turn a lowly local dive bar in Zagreb, Croatia, into a haven where gamers can play for hours without being charged for or harassed, where there were more often talk about DnD or GURPS games than sports, popular movies and TV shows discussed, birthday parties celebrated and bachelor/ette parties thrown, where quizzes about superheroes and boy wizards were being held and many tournaments took place, from Pokemon Go and Overcooked to Mortal Kombat and Tekken.

We became the place where like-minded community came together and thrived. New friendships were being made, new player groups formed, new ideas came to being, new businesses started.

Perhaps even a new romantic relationship or two, we hope, because the Black Cat Cafe is a kind of a place where you could find a soulmate if you were a fan of books, movies, TV series and games in any form imaginable.

We have even hosted one of the biggest LARP conventions in this part of Europe and were getting ready to do so much more.

And then the plague struck.

Just like many other bars, restaurants and alike establishments, our Black Cat Cafe was closed down for business starting March 19. Our revenue stream went to zero virtually overnight. It is uncertain for how long the COVID-19 lockdown will last. Croatian government has floated cautiously June as a possible deadline but it is far from certain.

We can not hold out that long. The Croatian government has issued a relief programme to help business retain employees. It will help us greatly but unfortunately won’t be enough to keep our business afloat. We are still looking for any options that will help us survive this crisis and keep our community together.

We are ready to fight tooth and nail but we’re precariously near the end of our rope. The beacons are lit.

We’re asking you, our fellow players and gamers, our geek and nerd brothers and sisters, all of you who feel they belong to this tribe of imagination, creativity and untold wonders, to come to our aid in this time of need.

Please donate as much as you can and help spreading the word. Every little contribution will help. We will appreciate it and remain eternally grateful.

owners of the Black Cat Cafe

But they are not alone. Many businesses are impacted, all around the world. From conventions and game shops to geek bars, caffes, comic book stores and others. We, the fans are what keeps them alive. Please, if you find other businesses with the same problems that are looking for help, contact us. Let’s share their stories and help in every way we can.

These places outside of cyberspace, out in the real world, are the ones that let us find one another, keep us happy, and that keep us together when there are no crises. Let us do what we can to help them on their feet until this is over.


Editor’s note: The Black Cat Cafe has reached its funding goal, but without knowing how long the lockdown in Croatia is going to last, they still need all the help they can get.

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