For the college student demographic, alcohol and good food are indispensable staples. Throw in over 170 state-of-the-art simulators, video and arcade games and suddenly you have yourself a business the youth will flock to more often than not, which is exactly why Dave & Buster’s has finally arrived on the isthmus.
Jim Schiavo, general manager of the new Dave & Buster’s location, said Madison seemed like the natural choice for the franchise.
“There’s really nothing quite like it in Madison, in fact, years ago that was our tagline,” Schiavo said.
Locating on the west side of the city is purely happenstance. Once the Sears property connected to the West Towne Mall became available, the franchise made their move, particularly enticed by the parking space available for the number of people they expect to walk through their doors.
Although Schiavo says the arcade is for all ages, the core demographic for Dave & Buster’s are “play-together young adults,” varying in age from 21 to 35. The goal is to get folks in graduate school or just out of college to have fun together while engaging in entertaining competition.
After a night of gaming, you can redeem the credits that you’ve earned from playing games at the winner’s circle. There, you can exchange those credits for all sorts of prizes, ranging from sticky hands to iPads, Apple Watches and gaming consoles.
What may be Dave & Buster’s secret weapons, are their chef-driven menu and creative cocktails. A lot of research goes into designing the menu, with the execution of the final product making it so delicious, according to Schiavo.
“Where else can you get a buffalo chicken burger with chicken tenders tossed in buffalo sauce on top of a burger on a toasted bun?” Schiavo asked joyfully.
Something unique to Dave & Buster’s is the carnivore pizzadilla, a 12-inch quesadilla topped pizza style. That means Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella and parmesan. The title seems appropriate.
The dining area will seat approximately 150 people trying to get their hands on one of the unique burgers, and the sports bar and lounge will hold roughly 80 people who can watch television on one of the two large screen projectors.
“We make food fun,” Schiavo said.
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About half of the management team is local. The kitchen manager came from Livonia, Michigan, just outside Detroit, earning a promotion from within the Dave & Buster’s crew. About one-third of the management team is promoted from within. Developing staff members is something that the franchise believes in, according to Schiavo. One team member from just 20 minutes outside Madison — who started as a waiter at the Chicago location — will now be a manager when the Dave & Buster’s opens on the west side.
Among the entire staff, roughly 200 Madison locals are now employees of the new Dave & Buster’s.
Mixing adults drinking alcoholic beverages and younger children playing arcade games may raise some eyebrows, but Schiavo says there are plenty of measures in place to ensure a safe environment. Every single patron attempting to purchase alcohol will have their ID checked by a waiter or waitress who has gone through alcohol training.
“We really start at the door and managing that process. We have a very serious alcohol compliance policy,” Schiavo said.
In-house security will greet patrons at the front door along with off-duty security being hired, according to Schiavo.
In order to enter the building, you must be at least 18 years of age, or, if under, you must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 25. Up to six teens or children under 18 can come in with someone who is 25 or older. Schiavo is a fan of the policy because it allows students who are freshmen at the university access to the establishment.
The building is roughly 31,000 square feet, which according to Schiavo, is on the smaller side as far as Dave & Buster’s locations go. The Chicago location is just over 65,000 square feet. That being said, the total seating capacity of the new Dave & Buster’s ranges from 350 to 400 guests.
All of the artwork and photographs inside will be unique to Madison. Aside from Wisconsin Badger logos, pictures of the capitol building, the Tenney Park bridge, Monona Terrace and Lake Monona are the details exclusive to the new Dave & Buster’s.
“We’re the ultimate place to eat, drink, play and watch sports. There’s no other venue that can provide that total package, let alone viewing experience. When the Badgers have those away games, I don’t think there’s a better place in town to enjoy the game,” Schiavo said.
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Schiavo says the location will also be available for organizations to meet as an event space, particularly for Greek organizations on campus.
The grand opening won’t mean a debut for the franchise in Wisconsin. A Dave & Buster’s opened in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, just about eight years ago
Ribbon cutting for the grand opening for the new Madison Dave & Buster’s will take place Monday morning on April 9, with the business going live shortly after.