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Dave & Buster's
Dave & Buster's

8 Tasty Facts About Dave & Buster's

Dave & Buster's
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Ho, No: Christmas Trees Will Be Expensive and Scarce This Year
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The annual tradition of picking out the healthiest, densest, biggest tree that you can tie to your car’s roof and stuff in your living room won’t be quite the same this year. According to The New York Times, Christmas trees will be scarce in some parts of the country and markedly more expensive overall.

The reason? Not Krampus, Belsnickel, or Scrooge, but something even more miserly: the American economy. The current situation has roots in 2008, when families were buying fewer trees due to the recession. Because more trees stayed in the ground, tree farms planted fewer seeds that year. And since firs grow in cycles of 8 to 10 years, we’re now arriving at a point where that diminished supply is beginning to impact the tree industry.

New York Times reporter Tiffany Hsu reports that 2017’s healthier holiday spending habits are set to drive up the price of trees as consumers vie for the choicest cuts on the market. In 2008, trees were just under $40 on average. Now, they’re $75 or more.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tree at a decent price—just that some farms will run out of prime selections more quickly and you might have to settle for something a little less impressive than in years past. Tree industry experts also caution that the shortages could last through 2025.

[h/t New York Times]

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