Portland News

Dave & Buster’s: An Overview on One of America’s Beloved Arcades

A man plays Pacman in a Dave & Buster's in Shenandoah, Texas
A man plays Pacman in a Dave & Buster's in Shenandoah, Texas

Dave & Buster’s – Before the rise of PCs, laptops, and mobile phones, gamers would have to travel to the cities or the local diners just to unwind with arcade games. While they were introduced in the 1970s, video arcades became more popular in the ‘80s.

Over the years, the number of video arcades decreased, but a handful of successful brands still operate today, including Dave & Buster’s.

Headquartered in Dallas, Dave & Buster’s doubles as a restaurant and entertainment business with 145 locations in the United States and two in Canada.


Dave & Buster’s opened in 1982 in Dallas. It was founded by David Corriveau and James “Buster” Corley, the latter using his experience operating a bar in Arkansas to help develop the company.

It wasn’t until seven years later that the Edison Brothers Stores purchased majority ownership in the restaurant, financing further expansion into other cities. 

The video arcade was spun off from Edison Brothers, going public in 1995 with Andy Newman as the chairman. In two years, the chain would open in ten locations.

In 2004, Dave & Buster secured nine Jillian’s locations after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Although two locations were closed, seven of them were rebranded.

A year later, Dave & Buster’s was acquired by Wellspring Capital Management.

In 2008, the company filed to again become a publicly-traded company and was later set for the Initial public offering IPO in October 2012, but Dave & Buster’s pulled out before it opened.

Oak Hill Capital Partners collaborated with the company to complete its acquisition from Wellspring Capital Management.

By 2014, the video arcade launched a second IPO, raising the offering to $94 million, which would be used for debt repayments. 

Currently, the shares are traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

When the pandemic arrived, Dave & Buster’s followed health protocols, closing all locations before reopening in May.


Dave & Busters dubbed the arcade section with interactive games and simulators as the “Million Dollar Midway.”

The company introduced the Power Card in 1997, replacing the traditional tokens and tickets with a balance or debit card that allowed people to play games.

The power card could be reloaded, helping Dave & Buster’s generate more revenue.

Dave & Buster’s Power Card also reduced technical difficulties and maintenance issues in coin-operated machines.

The company later updated its Power Card system to allow players to tap to play instead of the traditional swiping in 2015.

In 2020, Power Cards were added to Google Pay and Apple Wallet via the DING DING DING app.

Food & Drinks

Dave & Buster’s menus offer an array of favorites like pasta, burgers, steaks, seafood, chicken, and desserts – all served between early lunch to late night.

The company frequently updates the menu, following current trends and offering guest favorites.

Dave & Buster’s typically leans towards an adult clientele market, offering full bar service. Guests below 21 must be accompanied by a guardian and are only allowed in until 10 pm.

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.