As you walk towards the flashing lights beaming from the “Million Dollar Midway” at Dave & Buster’s, it’s hard not to feel like a kid again.
The 33,000-square-foot restaurant and game room at Dave & Buster’s in Crossgates Mall screams indulgence and aims to entertain. There are 170 games with 268 player positions, a 360-degree sports bar featuring more than two-dozen high-definition televisions, a sizeable menu offering some twists on classic American fare and bevy of alcoholic concoctions.
Dave & Buster’s opened its doors on Saturday, Aug. 24, and is opened daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday stretching until 2 a.m.
Dan Johnson, general manager of D&B in Albany, said the business sets itself apart with the combination of a dining room, sports bar and gaming.
“We’re thrilled to bring our unique brand of food and fun to the Capital Region,” Johnson said in a statement. “The new Dave & Buster’s Albany offers something for everyone with a great variety of dining and entertainment options.”
As such, patrons might want to block out more time for a D&B visit than a trip to a traditional restaurant.
“It is really an all-day event,” Johnson said. “It’s really an epicenter for fun.”
Johnson said on a rainy day you could come in and watch sports game, grab something to eat and then play some games before the next sporting event starts. He also said opening a location in the Capital District, as opposed to the company’s home in Texas, allows for an entertainment option during the colder months.
“It is cold out here and I don’t know how many people are really the outdoors activity type,” Johnson said, “so to come inside and bring your friends and family … and not be in a rush to do anything at all. Just to leisurely walk around the property is really the biggest point of difference for us.”
The Crossgates location is also around 10,000 square feet larger than most of the company’s restaurants. Albany makes the 64th location for the national chain. Photographs of local landmarks, such as The Egg, are featured as part of the decor, along with the names of area sports teams.
“That is the cool thing about Dave & Buster’s; it is always localized,” Special Events Manager Kaitlyn Malloy said. “It is not that cookie-cutter. You go into every one and it is different.”
One game located outside of the midway and near the sports bar is the “Watch, Spin and Win” wheel. When an area team scores, an employee will select a patron to come spin it. The winnings can be handed out to the individual spinning, their table, or the “entire area.”
“This is one of our new, sports watching features,” Regional Marketing and Tourism Manager Benjamin Maddy said.
The “Million Dollar Midway” actually constitutes more of an investment than the name suggests, according to Maddy. The variety of games available in the midway ranges from the classic Skeeball to the latest video game technology. Many games offer tickets, but a majority are just for fun.
“About 60 percent of the games people play are the redemption games where they win the tickets and they get the prizes to take in the winners circle in the corner,” Johnson said. “They can win anything from a PlayStation 3 to an iPad to a six-foot tall, stuffed banana.”
Games like “Dark Escape 4D” utilize not only 3D glasses, but blow air onto the player’s neck and monitors the user’s pulse.
“As the zombies are hording and jumping out at you it show your pulse jumping,” Malloy said. “The more frightened you get the scarier the game gets, so it is a very interactive game.”
There are also full-size versions of popular smartphone games, including Temple Run, Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope, on screens much larger than you’ve seen it played.
The restaurant portion of the business also encourages people to get or refill a “power card” along with their meal. You’ll get 25 percent more chips, which are loaded onto the card and used for all games, if purchased alongside your meal.
Fare includes Black Jack burgers, baked chicken and shrimp alfredo, bacon wrapped beef medallions with grilled shrimp, along with popular adult drinks including Snowcones, Walk the Plank and the Million Dollar Margarita. There are also a few deserts, which include hot sugared donut holes, bananas foster pie and Belgian chocolate fondue.
There are private rooms available at the location that can hold up to 65 people for corporate functions, birthday parties and other celebrations.
The founders of Dave & Buster’s combined their neighboring establishments in Little Rock, Ark. A few years after hatching their idea, the duo opened their first location in Dallas, Texas, inside of a renovated 40,000-square-foot warehouse. The company’s new goal is to open four new stores every year.
Don’t be surprised if any clock you see in D&B is frozen at 5:15, because that’s intentional. Maddy said the clocks show that time, because it was when people entered the first location and reminds staff how customers are the most important thing.