8 Tasty Facts About Dave & Buster's

Mark Davis, Getty Images for Dave & Buster's
Mark Davis, Getty Images for Dave & Buster's / Mark Davis, Getty Images for 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. Dave & Buster's 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. Dave & Buster's used to offer a ride in an electric chair. 

Wow! Entertainment

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. Dave & Buster's 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 Dave & Buster's 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. Dave & Buster's has people who make money playing games.


Some Dave & Buster's patrons might not want to get chatty. A number of people frequent locations as "advantage players," using their skills to rack up tickets on games to trade them in for prizes that can be sold for cash. The truly gifted can earn up to $50 worth of merchandise an hour. The restaurants don't typically have a problem with these attempts, but if they're winning too much or preventing other players using machines, management might ask them to leave.

7. Dave & Buster's might help save malls.

When an anchor store like Sears departs one of America's increasingly stripped-down shopping malls, Dave & Buster's is ready to fill the slot. The chain is attracted to such spots due to their foot traffic; mall owners like them due to patrons that then visit other stores. Of the 14 restaurants opened by Dave & Buster's in 2017, seven were located in malls.

8. It took Dave & Buster's 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.