There are a few places in Laramie that offer food, a few that offer drink but only one will soon add a retro feel with classic games. 8 Bytes Gaming Cafe, which plans to open Aug. 20, 2016, is looking to break the mold with a fun-filled dining model aimed at all audiences.

We took a moment to ask entrepreneur Ryan Kiser about what inspired him to open the new location and to find out what lessons he learned along the way.

What are you able to do as a small business that chain restaurants cannot?

We are able to be more unique and flexible with the services we provide. Chain restaurants are typically structured in a very specific way no matter where they are located and with little consideration of the demographics in the area. Think about it. Pick one of the major chain restaurants in Laramie. Have you ever been to that restaurant in another city or state? It was most likely very similar. The menu was probably identical. Even the layout and design of the building were probably about the same. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it does differentiate chains from small businesses. As a small business owner, you have more freedom to do it the way you want. I believe you have the ability to be more strategic by really considering the market and the market needs.

What are you looking forward to most with running 8 Bytes?

I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions of our customers (assuming the reactions will be good). I think the loyal customers from Hero Depot will be thrilled when they come in and see the games that they loved playing at our previous location. But not only that, they will have the option to partake in a slew of new services including the enjoyment of a full service restaurant and refreshing beverages from the bar. I also imagine that the expressions of new customers will be priceless as they walk through the door and begin to experience the fun, energetic, and nostalgic feelings that the atmosphere will invoke.

Who is your typical customer?

We expect our customers to have a wide range of ages and interests just like you would see at most restaurants or cafés. However, I think those that will spend longer periods of time, at our establishment, will be young adults that want to socialize and individuals that have a passion for playing games.

What do you plan to do that makes you unique?

I think, overall, we have a very unique business model, in Laramie, because of the combination of diverse services that we will offer. Although the theme of our business will be a bit geeky and retro, it will have a sophisticated feel. Furthermore, we are going to offer breakfast all day, and we’ll be open for late night dining that will extend past 2 a.m. during the weekends.

Ryan Kiser, 8 Bytes Game Cafe

Describe the current Laramie climate for small businesses.

The state is experiencing an economic decline. I think Laramie has and will be affected somewhat, but not nearly as much as other cities within Wyoming. We are fortunate to have the University of Wyoming, Laramie County Community College, and WyoTech in town. These schools increase our population, which from a business perspective means more potential customers. Still, we expect challenges, but we are confident that we will be able to overcome them. We have a solid team, and we have been blessed with receiving lots of support from our community.

What did you learn from your last business that you can apply with this one?

Besides the hundreds of practical skills including how to do some maintenance and repairs on the machines, I learned how to find and utilize helpful resources within the community. This will give us an advantage as we start this new venture.

How did you find the money to open your business?

The funding for the business is coming from different avenues. We have received a small commercial loan, there are new business partners that are putting forth capital contributions, and we will be receiving some Kickstarter funds if we are fortunate enough to meet our campaign goal of $5,000.

Ryan Kiser, 8 Bytes Game Cafe

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of launching a small business, what would it be?

Be prepared to work your heart out. Owning a business is challenging. You have to make many sacrifices and tough decisions. But, if you have the true entrepreneurial spirit, the hard work is (almost) always worth what you get out of it, even if it is not huge financial gains. It is a special experience!

What is your favorite comic, figure, game or other item that you sell and why?

Personally, I like selling packs of any type of trading card game, particularly when the customer opens the pack immediately in front of me. It’s similar to watching someone playing roulette. You can share the feeling of anticipation and excitement as you wait for the little ball to stop. Sometimes the outcome is unfortunate, but sometimes it is glorious. I find great amusement when watching a customer as they finger through the different cards hoping to find that special one. And when they do, that’s when the real fun starts.


This content was written in partnership with Lendio. Lendio is a free marketplace for small business loans where lenders fight for your business. Lendio has partnered with over 75 lenders to offer small business owners access to working capital to start or grow their business. Contact Lendio today to find the right business loan to fit your business needs.

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