8 Tasty Facts About Dave & Buster's
If you’re old enough to feel self-conscious about going to Chuck E. Cheese without a juvenile, Dave & Buster’s might be a reasonable alternative. The arcade-slash-theme restaurant has been going strong since 1982, offering a mix of amusement fun and finger food. Take a look at some D&B trivia you can use the next time you’re waiting for a table.
1. THERE IS BOTH A REAL DAVE AND A REAL BUSTER.
Not all brand namesakes are rooted in reality—we’re looking at you, Betty Crocker—but Dave & Buster’s did actually start out with two guys named Dave and Buster. In 1977, Dave Corriveau opened an entertainment complex, Slick Willy's World of Entertainment, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Not long after, former T.G.I. Fridays employee James "Buster" Corley opened his restaurant, Buster's, a few doors down. Both Dave and Buster noticed customers floating in and out of both establishments, giving them the idea to combine their resources and put their offerings under one roof. Dave & Buster’s was born. (Dave’s name came first because he won a coin toss.)
2. THEY HAD VERY EXPENSIVE POOL TABLES.
Supervising two of the first Dave & Buster’s locations in Dallas, Corley and Corriveau wanted to make sure customers felt like they were in a higher-end gaming establishment. In addition to blackjack tables, the two ordered $15,000 pool tables that were handmade from mahogany and rosewood.
3. THEY USED TO OFFER A RIDE IN AN ELECTRIC CHAIR.
Always eager to try out the latest in arcade amusements, in 2000 a Dave & Buster’s in Maryland installed the Original Shocker—a replica electric chair that allowed patrons to simulate capital punishment. Players were strapped into an oak chair and grabbed on to handles to allow for a mild vibration in place of the 13,200 volts typical of the real thing. The attraction even offered a puff of smoke to mimic the singed flesh of the criminal element. In the understatement of the century, one spectator told The Washington Post the ride “borders” on bad taste.
4. THEY TRIED SYNCHRONIZED MOVIE SEATS.
Dipping into theme park realms, in 1996 Dave & Buster’s offered to screen movies with something they referred to as “synchronized seating.” The mechanical seats were programmed to react to the action onscreen. Short films inspired by Aliens and Days of Thunder were among the offerings.
5. EACH RESTAURANT HAS OVER $1 MILLION IN GAMES.
You’re probably not going to find any dusty Pac-Man cabinets here. Owing to their reputation for offering electronic diversions, a typical Dave & Buster’s will have over $1 million worth of arcade and interactive games on hand.
6. THEY MIGHT BE WORTH MORE THAN AN ACTUAL CASINO.
As a public stock, Dave & Buster’s has a market cap of $1.47 billion—that’s more than Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas-based casino empire with a cap of $947 million.
7. THEY WANT TO HELP DRESS YOU.
Earlier this year, the company began rolling out a possible substitution for its Power Card, the scannable card that keeps track of points accrued while playing games. For $10, customers can buy a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) accessory that performs the same functions without having to be inserted into machines. You can wear it as a bracelet, lanyard, or as a Harry Potter-style wand.
8. IT TOOK THEM 34 YEARS TO COME BACK TO ARKANSAS.
A Dave & Buster’s finally opened in Little Rock in 2016, 34 years after both owners had gotten their starts in the city. What took so long? Arkansas had legislation in place banning anyone from winning more than $5 in amusement games. A bill was approved that raised the cap to $500, so the franchise could continue to award big-ticket prizes like video game systems.