In the deep, dark days of March 2020, I had a candid conversation with Ken Nishidate of The Raving Gamer. Like all small businesses during this time, the Raving Gamer was experiencing the strain of uncertain times ahead. Nearly three years ago they were making the necessary switch to takeout, curbside pickup, and retail – crossing their fingers in hopes that this too shall pass.
By Brittany Tiplady
While the pandemic raged on longer than we all expected, The Raving Gamer forged on and continues to serve the Langley community locally sourced food, with a side of games galore.
Back in 2020, Nishidate stressed that the Raving Gamer is a community hub with a goal of supporting as many local businesses as possible.
“I’m trying to distill [our mandate] down to a few words. On our windows we have ‘great food, fun games, good times,’ and that’s really what we do here,” he said. Despite the incredible challenges of the last few years, Nishidate and his team have stayed true to their mandate.
Their impressive selection of games are once again available to be played at your table, they’ve increased the number of local businesses they support to nearly 30, and fun new initiatives are being reintroduced, like their Game Master Dinners. Tabletop Games are available to be played in-house, and purchased to take home –and their offering has significantly expanded, too.
And, The Raving Gamer is still a family affair – Ken’s daughter Miyoko has graduated to the restaurant’s General Manager position. “We haven’t lost anyone along the way!,” he laughs.
The menu at the Raving Gamer also continues to surprise and delight their guests.
“I do get a lot of comments and reviews that folks are surprised at the great quality of our food. Our concept and atmosphere are getting noticed, and then when they come, they are so blown away by the quality of the food. The quality for us is all about the locals –the local suppliers and producers,” Nishidate says. Star items at the moment include the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich and The Three’s Company Grilled Cheese.
“We recently re-started our Game Master Dinner Series,” Nishidate shares. “The last one we did was a Star Wars Villainous-themed dinner. What we do is take the concept of the game and make a four-course menu to pair along with it. For this menu we did a Lightsaber Cauliflower, we had a Grogu Soup (Broccoli and Spinach soup) and a Darth Vader Burger– for that we made our own Charcoal Black Bun and a Smoked Ketchup. It was a lot of fun!”
The next Game Master Dinner series will be February 26 with a Love Letter-themed meal.
In addition to keeping the Raving Gamer raving, Nishidate and his team have been running their catering business, Black Walnut Catering, full-force.
“We’ve done catering for as small as two for a private function at their home, and we’ve done a TV film set for 250. We’ve picked up the City and Township of Langley; we do corporate business as well,” adds Nishidate.
Using your wallet to support local goes a long way. Next time you’re in the mood to shake up your dining experience, try visiting the Raving Gamer for what is bound to be a fun and funky time.
The Raving Gamer Bistro is located at 106 – 5735, 203rd Street, Langley where the 561 bus stops. Find the Translink trip planner here