Game Changers: A Unique New Spot Gives Back

Located in what used to be Hailey’s Bar, Game Changers Sports and Arcade Grill is the polar opposite of what it used to be just months ago. Although headed by the same owners, they decided an interesting,  dare I say it, game-changing direction for the new place. The joint offers a myriad of arcade games, board games, pool and darts. The grill is family-friendly until 9 p.m. when it becomes 18 and up. From Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man, to life-size Jenga and Checkers there is something for everyone.

The food and bar also serve to amplify the vibrant environment. Colorful paint on the walls corresponds to a Piñata they call Pedro that sits near the bar. He acts as their mascot giving tips inside the menu via uncanny graphic illustrations.

“What’s different about this place than anywhere I’ve ever worked, I tell people this all the time, they walk through the door and they are happy,” said Art Anderson, bar manager at Game Changers.

Anderson, who playfully calls the rest of the staff a bunch of nerds, said they all get the opportunity to game out with and without customers.

“As soon as y’all leave, I’m going to go play Whack-A-Mole,” Anderson said.

Some of the staff who are gamers will get into topics of such with customers, while some setup card games with them elsewhere. Anderson points out this unique vibe and said he hoped they always keep that feel.

Manager and owner, Jennifer Gibbs, has owned the building next door that housesDusty’s for 15 years and took over Hailey’s in 2013 until their close and opening of Game Changers in mid-July of 2016.

They are also working on evolving the second part of what was once Hailey’s into a speakeasy called 1933 Spirits and Small Plates with craft cocktails. Eventually, they want to make the downstairs into Marina Del Rey, a bar that will be pet-friendly, according to Anderson.

Gibbs has been working extra hard this past year to get the word out for Game Changers. Gibbs and her fiancé Adam Arnold, longtime Denton bartender and director of hospitality and concept development at Game Changers, have always tried to help out the community where they could with their bar affiliations. But, between spending money on the opening and a surprise baby, it was tough.

“We want to help, but we don’t have the budget right now being in our first year,” said Gibbs. “So, what can we do to help?”

The idea for Give Back Nights sprouted from a mutualistic concept. The first Give Back Night was for The DAM Awards and Gibbs decided it would be a helpful way to help out a cause and get people in the door. The Give Back Nights occur every Thursday. From open until close every Thursday, 10 percent of all the money made goes to the organization of the week. Additionally, from Friday up until Thursday there is a coin jar game where the profit is given to them as well. The itinerary of the evening is all up to whatever the organization decides and has included raffles, tournaments, auctions and trivia games. The Game Changers staff helps out wherever they are needed from there. Gibbs estimates they have raised about $1,500 in total during their Give Back Nights.

Anderson said what they are trying to do is not raise a lot of money for one group, but help raise a little bit for a bunch of groups. Anderson said this event helps in other ways that are not monetary and helps the groups be seen and gain more. On that same note, he believes it helps Game Changers in that exact same way.

“I’ve been around town a long time and what we try to do in Denton as a whole, is help out,” Anderson said. “We look out for each other.”

These nights have brought all sorts of groups around town, like Communities in Schools, Karma Yoga, 7Feathers and Rotary to name a few. This Thursday, they are bringing in Serve Denton and next Thursday Thin Line will be there.

Gibbs said each group is always appreciative and she enjoys seeing the pictures on Facebook after each one.

“I think my favorite part is just the people I’ve gotten to meet who are also doing good all over [Denton],” Gibbs said.

The nights have also had a positive impact on the staff as they try to bring in causes or groups that they are interested in.

“I think a lot of times people in the service industry get wrapped up in the service industry and a lot of our staff has opened their minds,” Gibbs said.

As for Game Changers, Gibbs and Anderson are excited about what is to come for the place. They are currently trying to bring more games in such as The Simpsons and Street Fighter.

“I want us to be ‘that’ spot,” Anderson said. “I hope it turns not only into the gathering space, but the staying place.”

You can contact Game Changers on Facebook to see about booking a Give Back Night for your organization.