Dave & Buster’s Review


Games, grub, and good times. The way Dave & Buster’s intends to markets itself is not a difficult mystery to decipher.

The promised play palace of 21st century top-of-the-line arcade equipment and culinary service has likely come up as a topic of conversation among most locals since its 28th Street opening in March. Despite catering to adults with its alcoholic beverages, a sports themed bar, mature arcade games such as beer pong, and gag prizes consisting of shot glasses shaped like boots or even erotic board games, D&B still retains a sort of attractive childish buzz. This buzz begs for an investigation into what makes the iconic warehouse of joy what it is.

‘Stimulating’ is a word that comes to mind when describing the hybrid of food, sport, and game one is greeted with upon entrance. The first impression can be characterized as loud, chaotic, and inviting. Collaborating together, the sound of epileptic, noisy arcade games, socializing patrons, a low volume hum of generic background pop music, clinking platters of cuisine, and the clashing of cups and cocktails collectively coexist to create a cumbersome wall of sound. Noisy, perhaps overbearing for some, but overall, the environment remains inviting and exciting.

Two dining halls and a bar are available to enjoy the wide variety of possible meals offered by the establishment. One dining hall contains decor and large murals inspired by the city of Grand Rapids, offering modern interior design combated by a slightly rustic feel. On the other hand, the adjacent dining hall is centered around all things sports. Locker room themed wallpaper drapes one wall, and the other walls are coated with a large stylized list of every popular sports team in the area. Familiar names such as “Red Wings”, or “Spartans” meet the eye. TVs playing all relevant games in progress also line the area. Through this attempt to please everyone, some novelty is lost; however, it does not affect the hospitality to a great extent. Lastly, the bar is centered around a central hub of televisions, providing a proper area for customers of proper age to view some proper sports with a proper drink.

Seated with ease, the staff is clearly trained quite meticulously to cater to each customer’s specific need and request. The waiters and waitresses present one with multiple possible deals and offers combining food and game credits, but without pushing anything onto the customer. They can usefully bring you a game card already loaded to the max with credits while you enjoy your meal. The biggest flaw with the cibarious experience definitely does not preside within the service, but rather, within the menu.

Bloated and overloaded with calories and possible items, deciding which meal to order from the menu exceedingly annoys and evokes stress as you flip through the crisp laminated pages within. Eight pages stuffed to the brim with entree choices does not exactly inspire confidence in decision. However, if one is decisive and settles on a choice, they will most likely receive a fulfilling, hearty feast. The quality of the available food is almost impossible to review due to the sheer quantity of reviewable choices, but the cleanliness and speed create a high expectation based off of a few entrees. Items such as the short rib cheesy mac stack and the philly cheesesteak remain unhealthy, expensive, and for the most part, delicious. A plethora of salads are also available for those who wish to avoid a heart attack. After gorging on an unhealthy amount of chow, the only logical option remaining is to venture into the nearby ostentatious neon arcade.

Dave & Buster’s is one of the newest arcades of its kind in America. Other institutions have been in existence for long periods of time, and due to the cost and size of machines, old machines are rarely replaced with new, up to date devices. This results in arcades bogged down with machines from the 90s and early 2000s. While not necessarily a negative thing, arcades in this condition show the benefit of having all new games installed in an all new arcade. In the new D&B arcade, every game has been shipped in new earlier this year, and it shows. There are no dirty consoles or jammed machines, instead, all games are glossy and vibrant, showing no signs of wear. Despite the appeal of up to date games, an alarming trend is emerging. New machines are using new ideas far less frequently, and instead modeling their games after the most popular and profitable source: mobile apps. Contained inside the arcade, enormous versions of Flappy Bird, Subway Surfers, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, and Candy Crush preside. It may not bother the masses, but the turn to mobile gaming for inspiration indicates that arcade gaming has become more image based, and the games are being marketed to the least common denominator: people who play these games on their phones.

All being said, most issues with D&B are irrelevant if you are there only to have a good time, and not to deconstruct the business with careful critical examination. So head on down 28th Street, grab a meal and a drink (if you are of age), and enjoy some fine games and fine prizes.