In the United States, the tabletop game of Warhammer– borne from “across the pond” in the United Kingdom– has managed to root its way into the hearts of hobbyists since 1983. Since that time, the hobby has evolved from small, local finecast miniatures to an international sensation, with titular products such as Warhammer: 40,000, Age of Sigmar, and the decades’-long Black Library novelization series.
In Southern California, Warhammer is deep-rooted throughout this little region we call home. For the Warhammer Store and Café in Old Town Monrovia, they’ve been keeping the love for the hobby alive and well, and are terrifyingly excellent in turning a “casual”– as they call some non-Warhammer fans– into an instant fan by the end of the day. Of course, you may be thinking “oh, there must be plenty of Warhammer stores around! Right?” While in another universe this would be the case, the Warhammer of Monrovia is, surprisingly enough, the first and only Warhammer store and café hybrid in the entirety of the West Coast. Trying to find another one would mean having to travel 1,500 miles to Grapevine, Texas.
Having opened in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the telltale signs of pandemic-era guidelines are still, very well, in place throughout the store (albeit a little more relaxed than most stores). Upon first walking in, you’re almost immediately greeted by a life-sized Space Marine: a title character pulled directly from the “grimdark universe” of Warhammer: 40,000. The walls are filled with sets of plastic miniatures, each from their own respective “armies” and factions. Tables, packed with hand-painted terrain and demo miniatures, are typically surrounded by people, mostly teenages eager in learning the hobby from the store’s dedicated employees. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, and despite the lingering pandemic, many have found the time and courage to dwell within the “homey” airspace.
Despite living all the way in Burbank, Shad still dedicates his time to keeping the Warhammer shop running smooth throughout the day. He isn’t hard to miss, either; with graying hair and full-sleeve tattoos on both arms, you’ll definitely be able to find him should you have any questions. His love and excitement for Warhammer is almost contagious, and if you’re not careful, chances are he’ll have you deep into the lore of the “Horus Heresy” by lunchtime.
“There’s plenty of things that Warhammer has to offer. Some people paint miniatures and play the game, others can just paint minis and place them back on shelves,” says Shad, eyeing the rest of the store. “Overall, it’s a versatile hobby with plenty of opportunities.”
The cafe is packed with Warhammer-themed drinks and appetizers, and all are reasonably priced to satisfy even the most penny-pinching of customers. Drink sizes– rather than being the typical small, medium and large– are, instead, changed to fit the cafe’s theme: “Dwarven”, “Manling” and “Giant”. To long-time fans of Warhammer, recognizing these themed names– ranging from the Agrax Americano to Corax White Mocha– are incredibly recognizable, too.
“The Magnus Macchiato is still the most popular drink we have today,” Shad says, “Although there’s lots to pick off the menu.”
And Shad isn’t wrong: in total there’s 12 drinks, hot and cold beverages, to choose from. You won’t run out of options anytime soon.
For a grand total of $6.01, you can get yourself a small Valhallan Iced Tea and Warpstone Muffins; the green-tea and pastry combo proves to be a rather refreshing break from the California heat. Pastries are, of course, fresh and made to order, and beverages are whipped up to perfection before your eyes. The Warpstone Muffins are quick to crumble and melt in your mouth, and although in-universe Warpstone is far, far from edible (and can, quite literally, end up killing you), the infused muffins are flavorful enough to put a weary soul at ease instantly.
Monrovia’s Warhammer Store and Café is the perfect representation of “work hard, play easy”, and is an even better place to come, sit down and grab a drink while enjoying your hobby. Whether you’re an experienced veteran or a college student looking to get away from studies, Warhammer in Monrovia is a superb place to spend your day.
Location: 418 S Myrtle Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016
Prices: Hot and Cold Beverages, $2.95 to $4.25; Pastries, $2.50 to $3.25. Details: Open Mondays to Fridays, 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Saturdays, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Sundays, 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Free parking.