I feel in love with Gangplank Avondale when I first saw the building. Hidden spaces under the stairs, a real bank vault…what’s not to love? The possibilities for creating a fun, open work environment were endless.
But it wasn’t until I returned nearly five months after the opening that I saw those opportunities being realized.
Last week, I decided to tag along with Gangplank Chandler Anchor Customer Systems, Inc., as they visited our west-side cousins for a few days. So we trekked our stuff (and some new IKEA desks!) the 42 miles from Downtown Chandler and set-up shop on the bottom floor of GPA. The drive isn’t that bad when you’ve got a driving buddy, by the way (Thanks Ed & Tim!).
There were so many things that blew me away about the West Valley. To begin, let’s talk about the food. You wouldn’t know it from the highway, but Avondale is home to a ton of great local restaurants, tucked away in the corners of strip malls. We enjoyed bento boxes at Goodyear’s Tomo Japanese Cuisine & Sushi and chicken shawarma at the Pita Kitchen. On Friday, the brownbag speaker was from local hot spot Caballero Grill and graciously provided amazing pork sandwiches for attendees. Of course, no trip to Gangplank Avondale would complete without a happy hour run to the Sonic next door for half priced slushies (Cherry Limeade ftw).
Even better than the food variety is the diverse array of projects happening in the West Valley. On Thursday night, GPAvondale hosted its first ‘After Hours’ event, inviting the community to hang out and work from 6:00-10:00pm. Around 25 people showed up to share what they were working on and collaborate. One group included Eric Torres and his game, Iconica: The World of Rynaga. From their website – “Set in the fictional World of Rynaga, Iconica blends turn-based strategy with a twist of chance for a unique card game experience that’s easy to learn, but a challenge to master.” The group hopes to meet monthly at GPAvondale to play Iconica and other RPGs, as well as work out any kinks. Other projects included an traffic stoplight Arduino project, a web series discussion and building a display case for a local invention.
The best part about GPAvondale? The people. Gangplank locations attract good people who want to engage with their local community and each other. I had a lot of fun (and laughs) talking with people about their projects, what ideas they have for Gangplank and things they’d like to learn more about. Of course, any group of folks that can put up with my constant running around and random dancing must be a pretty accepting bunch =)
Check out their next brownbag this Friday, ‘Storyrise: Stories of the Journey‘ at noon.