Cosmic Gorilla is a new comic book and board game shop at Findlay Market that not only offers the latest issues of your favorite superhero’s adventures, but also a full bar with signature cocktails — both fortified and non-alcoholic.
This is the latest venture from Gorilla Cinema Presents, the company behind La Ofrenda, Tokyo Kitty, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, Lonely Pine Steakhouse and Overlook Lodge.
Walk through the door on a sunny afternoon and you’re treated to a bright and welcoming front room, tastefully laid out to feature shelves bedecked with comic books and graphic novels. There’s also an imposing life-size Darth Vader statue in the middle of the room (he’s not for sale). To your right is the cashier’s counter, decorated with a retro Silver Surfer mural. The shop aims for a boutique experience with regularly rotated inventory, and the overall aesthetic is clean and well organized — a delight for fans of Marvel, DC, indie publishers and tabletop gaming.
The overriding drive behind Cosmic Gorilla is to create a family-friendly destination, says managing owner Greg Newman. Gorilla Cinema Presents’ owner, Jacob Trevino, echoes that.
“We wanted to appeal to families and we want to appeal to something that we felt was missing in the market,” Trevino tells CityBeat. “We see so many people of all ages come down to enjoy one of the tourist attractions of Cincinnati, which is Findlay Market itself.”
Gorilla Cinema’s tequila bar La Ofrenda is just a short walk from Cosmic Gorilla. Operating that space,which opened at the end of 2019, gave Trevino’s team a new perspective on the evolving needs of Findlay Market visitors. And while the bar caters to grown–ups, Trevino began to notice there weren’t destinations to hang out at the market geared toward everyone, including kids.
“For so many of the other shops, you grab your product and leave,” Trevino says. “How do you create a space where we can celebrate pop culture, we celebrate gaming culture, we can celebrate all these things…and provide a place for the community to come gather — not just 21 and up, but all ages?”
He accomplished that at Cosmic Gorilla through a combination of expertly curated retail shelves — the comics and board games and action figures — and the back bar’s cocktail menu.
After walking past the merchandise in Cosmic Gorilla, you enter a back bar, which Trevino and Newman call “Capes + Cloaks.” It serves cocktails, mocktails and beer. The menu was written for mocktails first and then guests can add spirits to any of them. The idea behind this was to have a comprehensive menu of elaborately concocted drinks that could be enjoyed by everyone.
Each drink name on the menu pays homage to comic book references, sure to spark a few conversations between fellow fans. “Agatha All Along” is a citrusy beverage made with a dry ice infusion that appears to have been hexed by Agatha Harkness, the “nosy neighbor” and villain of the Disney+ series WandaVision. The hard version of the drink is made with citrus vodka, cranberry, grapefruit, lime and agave nectar.
Cosmic Gorilla plans to have weekly events intended to attract repeat visits, with activities such as watch parties for shows like The Book of Boba Fett, monthly trivia and world-building exercises for Dungeons & Dragons-style “dungeon masters” (DMs) looking for inspiration in the creation of their next campaign.
“I’m going to host World-Building Wednesdays every Wednesday night,” Newman says. “What our company does is create worlds. Instead of playing a campaign of D&D, I’ve created a stack of, like, 150 cards with different things on them like tavern, castle, forest and then I’m going to draw one randomly and we’re going to collectively build that. The goal being, maybe you have writer’s block as a DM and now you can discuss with other DMs or other people how to get through that or you can take what we’ve built and add into your game that you’re playing at home.”
With a creative cocktail menu, plenty of comics and board games and a comfortable space to enjoy it all in, Cosmic Gorilla is positioned to become a nerdy oasis in Cincinnati.
Cosmic Gorilla, 1834 Race St., Over-the-Rhine/Findlay Market,