• Will Averill

Strangest Things


The Willow is excited to offer as one of our auction packages for this year's Garden Party a chance to play D&D with a professional DM at RPG, Lawrence's own gaming pub! We sat down with owner Matt Pool to ask a few questions about RPG, the package, and why people might enjoy trying out Dungeons & Dragons if they haven't before.

Will: Thanks so much for agreeing to support The Willow. We're so excited about this package - you're well versed in games AND food - what's the appeal of a family or friend game night?

Matt: Not only do we live in a time when reconnecting with friends and family is more important than ever, we believed that was the case back in 2019 when we first opened before 2020 ever existed. Good food, good games, and good drinks are a common ground we can all agree on together and, through these tools, find each other again. These are instruments that create true memories, real stories and binds connections that will last for years to come. So put down the phone and pick up the cards. Let's go Beyond the Table.


Will: We may have beginners bidding on this package who have never played before. What advice would you give to people interested in getting involved in-game but who haven't played?

Matt: DO IT. You have a good Dungeon Master, so you literally need nothing and need to know nothing to start playing other than a desire to have fun. Plan to explore an imaginary world together and do some basic math. Above all, plan to have an absolutely relaxed and exciting evening with no strings attached and nothing but great stories to create together.


Will: What age ranges do you think would enjoy this package, and do you think it's something a family could do together?

Matt All ages are welcome, but it is easier with those that know how to read and can do basic addition and subtraction fairly easily. Friends or a family would have an absolute blast laughing with each other as you work together to conquer the enemy, solve the puzzles, and escape the dungeons. D&D builds relationships and creates lasting bonds; it brings people together if you have an open mind to explore together, whether your group of friends, family, parents, kids and all.


Will: What led you to support The Willow?

Matt: The Willow is deserving of all support. Now more than ever, families need the support, security, and safety The Willow can provide as we struggle with the mental instabilities and struggles that COViD-19 has brought to our world. The struggles we face are real and will take years, if not decades, to recover from. The Willow will continue to be a major part of our recovery.


Will: What's something about RPG that people might not know about?

Matt: So many people think we have a cover charge or that you have to play games. Thankfully more and more people are discovering that they can just come in for food and drink and enjoy what we have to offer without playing games. We are a restaurant and bar like any other; we also have a library of 1,000 board games.


We also made a pivot when we reopened and removed all tipping, now pay all our staff a minimum of $15 an hour, and have a 15% Hospitality Fee to help us cover that cost. We believe the Hospitality industry needs this kind of a paradigm shift and hope to be a small part of making the changes to take care of those who often take care of us.


The RPG Stranger Things package features a 3-5 hour campaign for beginning through advanced players with DM Jeremy Tolbert running the campaign. Food is included in the package. You can bid on all packages at gardenparty2021.willowdvcenter.org

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