California Pizza Katniss


Gen Con 2013 has come and gone, and all that remains is stories. Well, and pictures. And movies. And maybe a little buyer’s remorse from hasty sales floor purchases. But mostly stories.

This particular story begins in the California Pizza kitchen across the street from the convention hall. I was sitting with my good friends from our gaming group, wishing there was another BBQ chicken pizza where one had just vanished, when an attractive lady wearing a costume walked by. I thought she was going for some sort of Tomb Raider kind of look at first, but the arrows in the quiver on her back and gentle hints from my friend Katherine (such as “no, that’s from The Hunger Games“) made me realize she was dressed as Katniss. I realized shortly thereafter she was a waitress. Well, either that or she just liked bringing people food.

Over the years, we’d seen more and more of the local businesses “getting into the spirit” of Gen Con. The JW Marriott where I stayed was playing music from videogame RPGs in the lobby, and some of the valets were wearing medieval garb. The waitstaff at most restaurants had at least a few costumes. I’d always assumed they were made to do this and dreaded the four days a year that they were forced to put on nerdface. I’d discussed this with more than a few people over the years, and I was not alone in this thought.

One night, I was walking back to the hotel with Micah Wedemeyer and another gentleman (whose name eludes me), and we started to have this conversation again. I brought up California Pizza Katniss, and was surprised to find that our travelling companion had spoken with her about her costume. It seems she chose to dress as Katniss because she’s from the same part of the US as District 12, Katniss’s home district in The Hunger Games.

In the weeks leading up to Gen Con, I’d read a few articles on the topic of gatekeepers. For the uninitiated, gatekeepers are those who cause grief to those they don’t consider “real geeks” to drive them away, thereby preserving the purity and sanctity of the Sacred Bespectacled D30 or some other equally stupid reason. I definitely don’t like that I (and many others) saw someone letting their geek flag fly, and felt some mixture of pity and disdain and talked about them behind their back to a dozen people.

And so it is to you I must apologize, California Pizza Katniss. May the odds be ever in your favor. Especially as pertains to tips.


  1. I ate at the same CPK and saw Katniss (my wife and I also thought she was the rebooted Lara Croft). At the same lunch, our waiter was dressed as Wolverine. When asked for a picture, he exclaimed “Yeah! Wait, lemme grab some knives!” I’m definitely excited to see so many people get a chance to get in the spirit of things and express themselves.

  2. We had a waitress at the RAM who, while not dressed in costume, also embraced the ‘nerd’. She was awesome and even made jokes about min/maxing our dipping cheese. (She got a big tip from us.)