There’s a new option in town for Brown County residents looking for a fun group activity.
The Phoenix Lair, a laser tag and entertainment venue at 717 W. Commerce, opened for business just before spring break. Owned and operated by Dennis Swain, the large indoor facility features a dedicated area for laser tag and pool tables and will soon include foosball, an arcade and computers for live action gaming.
Swain lived in the New Orleans area until Hurricane Katrina ripped through 12 years ago. “I designed clothes and costumes for Mardi Gras,” Swain said. “But after Katrina, it was reconstruction time and I had no business.”
Swain moved to Brownwood with his wife and child to be closer to family, but his wife passed away in 2012. As a single parent, he was always on the lookout for fun things to do with his son. “I’m from an area where there’s always something for children to do,” he said. “I think it was in 2013 I decided I was going to bring laser tag here.”
Finally after years of working towards his goal, Swain met a bar owner trying to sell his property. “He was looking to spend more time with his granddaughter,” Swain said. “It was perfect timing, basically. He’s looking to get out, I’m looking to get in.”
Swain met the owner in December and four months later, the venue was his. He scrambled to get it ready in time for a spring break soft opening. “It’s just temporary obstacles here,” Swain said. “I’m eventually going to have bigger and better obstacles.”
The laser guns Swain purchased are made in Australia and were designed for military training. Swain said they can be used for outdoor simulations as well as indoor games. “So I can do a simulation from World War I, using the actual weapons that were used,” Swain said as an example. “They’ll jam on you just like they did in World War I and take the same length of time to reload.
“I have 65 different scenarios I can do,” he said. During games, though, the weapons function like normal, semi-automatic laser tag rifles that keep team scores.
With the eventual arcade, pool tables and computers, Swain said he wants his venue to become a fun, safe place for youth of all ages. He said parents can feel confident that he’ll keep bad actors out of The Phoenix Lair. “I worked 15 years in the bar scene in the New Orleans area,” he said. “I know what to look for, and I’ll stop that before it even begins. There’s no way these kids can get one over on me.”
Laser tag at The Phoenix Lair will be $7 per person per 15-minute session. Up to 12 individuals can play at one time.
Swain said he’s still trying to solidify his hours of operation but said he will definitely be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Once school is out, Swain said he’ll be open most weekdays, too. Right now his provisional hours are 1 to 7 p.m. “If high school students come in here and hang out, then I’ll be here,” Swain said. “I’ll stay as long as someone’s wanting to play games. I have no problem with that. If it’s a big group, they can even call … and I will come right up here and open up.
“Again, I want a place where kids can come in and feel comfortable, have fun and hang out with their peers, where parents know they’re going to be safe.”
The Phoenix Lair can be reached at 325-642-6252.