Dave and Buster's is a chain of what I would categorize as a "Chuck E. Cheese for adults". Not only do they feature a full serve restaurant with pretty good food, as well as a full service sports bar, they have a number of games and such geared for adults. It's a pretty cool place if you've never been to one.
I've been wanting to write about Dave and Buster's since we went out to Indianapolis last fall and had dinner at Jillian's, an adult playground very similar to Dave and Buster's. But I hadn't been to a Dave and Buster's for a while. That is, until I was in Chicago recently and staying out in Addison. There's a Dave and Buster's near the hotel I was staying at (see map), so I went over for dinner.
In the 70's, two guys - Dave Corriveau and James "Buster" Corley - owned two separate establishments side by side in an old train station in downtown Little Rock. Corley owned a restaurant - Buster's - and Corriveau owned "Slick Willy's World of Entertainment", a 10,000 square foot emporium of pool tables, video games and pinball machines.
The two saw that they shared a lot of the same clientele and wondered what it would be like to have the two places under one roof. First of all, they wondered how big that roof would have to be. After working on rough designs and plans for a year, Corriveau sold Slick Willy's for seed money and the pair moved to Dallas to hunt for a location.
The first Dave and Buster's opened in Dallas in 1982 in a 40,000 square foot former warehouse. The place was an immediate hit with the young adults in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They tweaked the concept over the next few years and opened a second - equally large - location in Dallas in 1987. Seeing that location go over in huge way, both Corley and Corriveau wanted to expand their concept to other markets. The only problem was the lack of capital to do so.
In 1989, Edison Brothers, Inc. - a St. Louis-based corporation who owned women's apparel and shoe stores around the nation - bought controlling interest of Dave and Buster's, and the expansion was on. They built new locations in Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia and looked to expand even more. But the expansion was a drain on the Edison Brothers company, whose clothing and shoe stores were not doing well. Edison Brothers spun Dave and Buster's off in 1995 to a number of investors. Today, Dave and Buster's is traded on the NASDAQ exchange with Dresdner RCM Global Investors of San Francisco the largest investor.
In 2005, Dave and Buster's bought nine of the Jillian's locations in the U.S. Today, there are 49 Dave and Buster's locations in 18 states, Canada and Mexico. They've also licensed the Dave and Buster's name to corporations in Great Britain and Asia.
The first Dave and Buster's I went to was in suburban St. Louis a few years ago. We actually went in for the food, but ended up playing games in their "Million Dollar Midway" full of arcade games, simulators, and sports-themed games. They also had a great billiards room with very expensive pool tables. It was really quite fun.
When I first started to go to Chicago on a regular basis, I ate at the Dave and Buster's in Addison a couple three times. It really wasn't bad - in fact, it was quite good. They have a full menu of good entrees from steaks, pasta, seafood, chicken, ribs and sandwiches. Pretty much about anything your heart desires you can find at Dave and Buster's.
I got into the place about 8 p.m. and went to the "Good Sports" bar area. It was a Tuesday night and it was pretty dead in the place. The bartender told me that she didn't know why it was so dead that particular night. She said, "You could hardly move in here last Tuesday night, it was so packed."
I got a menu and a beer and looked things over to see what I wanted. One of the good things about Dave and Buster's is that they do have a varied menu and if you walk in not exactly knowing what you want, you can usually find something pretty good to eat.
I thought about getting something I've gotten before - the Cajun Shrimp Alfredo, large shrimp sauteed in a Creole spice mix and served with a spicy Creole sauce with tomatoes and mushrooms over linguine. It's very good.
I thought I'd try their steaks that night, however. I went with the Peppercorn Ribeye - a 12 oz. ribeye topped with a soft boursin cheese and herb combination, and their "frazzled onions" (thin onion rings). They then top that with a peppercorn sauce and serve it with a side of mashed potatoes. OK, I'll try that.
After about 20 minutes, my bartender brought my steak to me. I gave it a try and it was good. Very good, in fact. Surprisingly good. The steak was moist and tender, cooked to a perfect medium rare. The boursin cheese was not overpowering. I was a little worried about that. As much as I like blue cheese, when it's put on steak, it almost overpowers the taste of the meat. And the peppercorn sauce was good, too. It had that forward peppery taste that I really enjoy.
Having eaten at a Dave and Buster's four or five times now, I have to say that I've never gotten a bad meal any time I've been there. And the food is surprisingly good. Plus, it's a fun atmosphere at Dave and Buster's. Go for the food and stay to play some games in the arcade area.