Requiem Coffee Tea and Fantasy is a much-needed social space in Orange County, California. An oasis in the middle of Anaheim’s bustling downtown, right around the corner from Disneyland and Downtown Disney. As locals, our family was excited to find a coffee shop with gaming, cosplay, and fantasy themes right around the corner in Anaheim. I must give credit to our son, Oliver, for finding Requiem. He discovered the cafe when they had an Undertale event last year and had been asking us to visit. The collaboration featured Undertale themed food, life size cutouts of characters, and special Undertale merchandise for the event.
Requiem Coffee, Tea, and Fantasy
Requiem offers coffee, tea, and fantasy in a beautiful setting that combines gaming themes with fantasy elements. Located at West Broadway and S. Clementine Street in downtown Anaheim, this cozy cafe offers a unique experience of fantasy settings and inclusive space for all humans.
Enchanted Social Space in Orange County
Upon entering Requiem Cafe, visitors are greeted with an incredible interior that is designed to look like enchanted settings for play. There are cubbies hidden in a forest off to your left while over to right of the room you can find couches in the spaceship setting that offer a roomier space with large screen TV.
Coffee and food are conveniently served in the middle of the space while the back of the room holds games, books, a giant gaming table, a throne, and a giant stained glass window to accompany your game sessions. The Item Shop sells Magic The Gathering goods, plushies, and some interesting things from FanGamer.
Requiem is a Wizards of the Coast store and sells Magic The Gathering packs and decks in the Item Shop. They also have a shelf of RPG books and a glorious table for role playing sessions. The space has many tables and is open for board games, tabletop RPG sessions, and game-related meetups.
We had a wonderful time hanging out in the tree cubbies, having some snacks, reading the game books on the shelf, and buying some Magic The Gathering draft packs in the Item Shop. Requiem is on our short list of favorite places to visit in the area.
Requiem: Coffee, Tea, and Fantasy
280 S Clementine St, Anaheim, CA
Q&A with Kris Irons, Founder of Requiem Coffee Tea and Fantasy
After visiting the cafe we got a chance to talk with Kris Irons, CEO and founder of Requiem about the space, how it was created, and the inspiration for the business.
When we came to your cafe on a Saturday morning before opening I thought we would be the only people there. I was surprised to find 10-15 people waiting out front to come inside before opening. Is it always like this? You have quite a following!We tend to be pretty busy on the weekends simply by the nature of people just having stuff to do during weekdays, but those who can slip away during the weekdays will find Requiem to be a charming hidden gem they’ll feel like was for their very own escape from reality. People often take photos and videos in our space and that tends to produce swells of popularity as people find us online through Instagram and TikTok.
Once we got inside I immediately realized why there was a line. The space is gorgeous. And everyone wants to hang out in those cute cubbies. Has the shop always had this following of what seems like gamers, cosplay enthusiasts, and fantasy fans?
Requiem was built to be a celebration of fans and fantasy worlds as well as a safe space to enjoy these things and everything you are. It should feel right at home for everyone who is LGBT+, has special interests, or just needs an escape from whatever is happening in their life.
When did you launch Requiem Coffee Tea and Fantasy?
Opening Requiem was a long process. I had been working on it as a concept since 2014. 2015 I had renderings made of a fantasy cafe with themed areas inspired by stagecraft design techniques to keep people immersed in their own pockets of fantasy. In 2016, I signed a lease for this place and began construction. It was nothing more than a concrete cutout in this building with no prior tenants and didn’t even have a front door. It took 2 years of construction and 7 months of special effects design and hand crafting decor to create the Requiem you see today. We opened July of 2019… unaware there would be a global pandemic just 6 months away that would make for a scary landscape for a small business. But through the power of a very eager and positive fanbase, we survived.
If you don’t mind sharing.. Did you work in set design (or some sort of design) prior to launching Requiem? There are a lot of beautiful pieces coming together in this project.
It was less my own experience in theater or stage design and more that I used to go to friends’ stage performances and took an interest in how on stage you can have multiple venues visible at all times and each side of the stage could represent a different area and how audience members could suspend disbelief to travel vast distances instantly. So Requiem incorporated some similar ideas.
How did you decide to launch a place with this sort of vibe, aimed at this community?
Requiem ultimately is a place I needed when I was younger. I was homeless at the age of 16 and I wasn’t fully out of it until I was 22. During that time I took comfort in coffee shops and tried to cope with my problems by delving into fantasy media. When I was able, I thought about how much I struggled to survive and thrive and wanted to build a place I would have been comfortable in to give me at least a little peace during those times. And I hoped others who needed Requiem would be able to find it as well.
How did you cultivate this community of gamers?
We are built to accommodate gamers of all kinds and people can feel comfortable coming in and playing games. Sometimes it would feel odd to bring your Warhammer army or D&D group to like a Denny’s to play games, but you’ll never get weird looks for it at Requiem. I think how much we vocally advocate for gamers and enjoyers of everything we celebrate helps bring a community together. We have plans to make this more of a community too by expanding our public discord server, having customer-run clubs where people can enjoy discounts and perks for hosting their events at Requiem, and organizing more regular tournaments and game nights.
Can you tell me about the design of the space? This seems like an elaborate build with lots of attention to detail. From the throne and game table to the stained glass to the giant hangout tree.. how did all of this get designed and created?
My vision for Requiem was always to have a forest, a castle, a sci-fi area, and something inspired by art deco. I wanted there to be the vibe of games like Zelda or Final Fantasy, or movies like Lord of the Rings or Dark Crystal, but with direct references only as easter eggs. Requiem has its own universe and lore where art and magic go hand-in-hand and it’s my hope the some day people can enjoy the Requiem universe in a very authentic way.
When I visited your gift shop I assumed it would be like others I’ve been to but you had some interesting items like high brow gaming magazines and limited edition game related merchandise. Where does all the cool stuff come from?
We work with Fangamer a lot, we’re an official Wizards of the Coast store, and we get a lot of officially licensed goods as well as cute plushies. I wanted the gift shop (we call it the Item Shop) to be pink and cute to be as “anti-gatekeepy” as possible. Gaming has historically been a stigmatized boys club and I wanted to do away with that and have people buy their dice and D&D books in a pretty pink shop.
The Undertale event looked pretty great from the photos I saw. The menu and the merchandise tied to the game were very clever. how did that collaboration come about?
We try to celebrate Undertale a bit every year because the message of the game coincides with our philosophies of kindness. We worked with Fangamer on doing the event and it happened very fast. It was quite fun and it got a lot of attention. When I went to Japan last December, I was recognized several times in public because of how viral it went and people knew me from the photos and videos.
I should have asked first.. is the coffee delicious? Because for all the fantasy surrounding I do see that you are a coffee shop first. Can you tell me about the coffee?
Our menu is truly a celebration of everything we love. Whether it’s me or the staff, we often take time in the kitchen to experiment with ideas and come up with fun flavor combinations and theme them after something we like. We get a special roast of beans from Kean Coffee just for us and we let customers enjoy a little something special. One of my favorite drinks is the Tea Salt Ice Cream, inspired by Kingdom Hearts. It’s a sky blue milk tea with creamy, sweet, and lightly salty flavor. It’s very unique and delicious.
Do you have events where people can play games?
All the time and we plan on doing more. Often board game nights land on Wednesday, but we plan on making days dedicated to certain kinds of gaming groups.
Are the tables open for gaming? Can people reserve tables? Is there a cost to use them for games?
People can use tables for gaming all they want. The big 12ft castle table can be reserved for bigger games (D&D and tabletop war games). We ask everyone to buy something from the cafe while enjoying games just to help support the shop.
Any upcoming special events to mention for Requiem Coffee, Tea, and Fantasy?
A lot of the special events we want to mention we can’t at the moment because we might be under NDA or have an announcement plan. I’d say follow our social media for updates on what’s coming up. (Instagram is where we post @requiemcoffee currently but we do plan on being more active on Tiktok and Twitter in the future).
What is your favorite sort of game? (Board games / TTRPG, video games?) Ps I loved all the RPG and art books in the cafe.
I love to DM when playing Dungeons and Dragons. Building worlds is in my blood haha.
What’s your favorite game to play with new gamers?
Games like Jackbox or Cards Against Humanity are fun to play with virtually anyone so I’d say those
What’s your favorite game to play with hardcore gaming friends?
Probably D&D or a competitive online game like League of Legends. Online games have helped me stay in touch with friends who live thousands of miles away as well so maintaining relationships through competitive online games has been important to me too.
I loved the Fangamer merchandise in the item shop. What a great partnership. And I see that you have some new Requiem merchandise. Can I buy these things online and will more loot be coming to the website?
We are putting more and more of our merchandise online for the collaborations we do. That way people all around the country can experience a bit of the joy Requiem brings.