RPG to close its doors at the end of the month

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It’s game over for RPG. 

The game-themed restaurant on Massachusetts Street is closing June 30 after four years of offering food, drinks, social events and providing a space for people to gather and play games.

Matt Pool and Nate Morsches opened RPG (Restaurant, Pub, & Games) six months before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost from the beginning the restaurant had to deal with capacity restrictions, revenue reductions and supply-chain delays.

“We never fully bounced back from the last few years,” RPG said in a Facebook announcement Friday. 

“We feel sad, emotions have been difficult to manage at times, but we also have a strong sense of pride in what we accomplished,” Pool said. “Our mission was to build community, and while the business may not have made it, our mission was successful.”

© Min/Max Photography

In addition to a library of more than 1,000 games, RPG offered dishes such as its hearty mac and cheese, chicken tinga nachos and vegan General Tso’s with tempura cauliflower. 

Social events were a cornerstone for RPG, which offered weekly trivia, murder mysteries,  drag bingo and cocktail-laden game nights. RPG also had a private event space called The Boardroom that emanated speakeasy vibes. 

Cocktails had names like Nat 20, Pinball Wizard, and Musical Chairs. There were also the Mana, Health, Stamina and Charisma potions. 

RPG’s flight, composed of three game-themed “potions”: Stamina, Health, and Mana. (Matt Pool/Contributed Photo)

RPG was one of the first restaurants in Lawrence to enact a 15% hospitality fee on all orders, beginning in May 2020. It paid its waitstaff a $15 hourly wage in order to “show those that work alongside us day out that they are worthy of a livable wage and stable paycheck,” according to their Facebook announcement from when they made the change.

“There’s only a few very genuine ways that owners can communicate to their employees that they’re valued, and the primary one is money,” Morsches said. “You just have to pay them well if you want to communicate (their value).” 

As it winds down this month, RPG will continue to host events such as anime night, trivia and drag bingo.  

“We have already had some (people) ask us what they can do to support us in June and our response is that you come celebrate with us,” Morsches said. “Come say hello, come say goodbye. Come one, two, three, or more times to remember why you came the first time, and why you came back each time after that.”

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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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