For Readers, a Little DAB Will Do

Responding to Cramer's requests, <I>TSC</I> readers pass along their largely lukewarm opinions on Dave & Buster's.
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Below is a selection of letters we've received in response to a recent

column by

James Cramer

, which asked readers to forward accounts of their experiences at

Dave & Buster's

(DAB)

.

I too was interested in going long Dave & Buster's during the past week. So I went to one of the newer stores. It was visually impressive. First impression: Las Vegas.

We needed two plates for the appetizer, so the girl brought us two -- straight from the dirty-dishes pile! They were literally caked with old salad dressing.

Next, the fries were 72 hours old, and my wife's salad tasted like it had been hanging around the Nevada salt flats. Only the fish was good.

Finally, the bill for this fiasco was 35 bucks! (Hey, I'm from Austin, not New York.)

Take this limited experience for what it is worth, but it kept me from going long.

--

Bradley C. Bolen

They built a huge one of these in St. Louis. It opened a couple of months ago. I have been there three times. It's

always

packed! Lots of fun also. I am taking a small long-term position on the news.

--

Phillip Silva

I have been to the Houston Dave & Buster's several times for dinner and drinks after work. It can be a lot of fun if you go with a large group. They have multiplayer electronic games (race cars, skiing, virtual reality, etc.) that are a blast when you know the people you're crashing into. The food is pretty good.

However, I have never considered taking my family there for the following reasons: (1) My kids are too young to play most of the games; (2) the food is too adult for them (and too expensive to waste); and (3) the clientele seems mostly inebriated twentysomething singles.

--

Steve Hayward

I've been to the one at White Flint Plaza in Rockville, Md. A great place to go to, but only when carting along teenagers! Give 'em $40 each to splurge on the myriad electronic games, while you enjoy the "quiet and undisturbed" (it helps to be deaf, like I am) romantic companionship of your spouse at the dining table. The dining/gaming establishment always appears full, but I feel it's a novelty that will soon become passe.

--

David Black

Dave and Buster's does very well here in Dallas; the restaurants are usually very full, and it's is a good concept. However, concept restaurant stocks litter the landscape, from Planet Hollywood to Rock Bottom Brewery to Rainforest Cafe. In this sector, the novelty and uniqueness of a destination becomes diluted by its own growth, the same growth which is required to keep the stock rising and to raise money for more expansion.

Also, be very wary of restaurant management who blame bad results on weather. You will pull what is left of your hair out waiting for this one to come back.

--

C.J. MacDonald

I used to be in Dave & Buster's stock after going to their arcade four years ago. Seemed like a money machine. I know I chalked out $100 easy. Had a great time. Loved the place. Swore I'd go back. But I never did. I don't know why.

The stock never went anywhere. Maybe it's because I have a PlayStation and computer at home. Sure the games are better at Dave & Busters, but I need bursts of relaxation, which my computer and PlayStation provide.

--

Anthony Evans

I ate at Dave & Buster's three times. The food sucks, but the beer selection's great! No Ms. Pac Man for my girlfriend, though!

--

David R. Cope

Here's a quick recap from a recent company event held at the Dave & Buster's in Houston:

(1) The food was much better than expected.

(2) They organized "events" for team-building; that lasted about two hours and was OK.

(3) We spent way more than expected (about $75 per person), but I noticed that they were packed with people.

(4) The sections that were busiest were the bars and the kids areas, where the parents were feeding the machines nonstop. The restaurants were fairly busy.

(5) The adult game areas were moderately busy and were expensive. You could drop $50 an hour "entertaining yourself." The virtual reality exhibit was $5 for a 90-second experience!

My assessment: too small a niche to make a lasting impact. You go there very occasionally and probably think after the fact that it was way too expensive for what you got: games and entertainment. The service was good, and the food and beverages were good.

--

Alan Springer

I went to the one located next to the headquarters in Dallas. Even though the food sucked and the service was bad, the place was packed!?

--

Marco A. Ochoa Jr.

Dave & Buster's is wonderful! I am 28 and my wife is 27, and we go regularly -- on average once a month. Most frequently we've gone to the one in Bethesda, Md., although we've also been several times to the one in Philadelphia (her family lives in Doylestown).

We usually go and have dinner and play games for an hour or two; total outlay about $50, including games and dinner. It's like an adult's playground (and I mean that in the clean sense). Where else can you play video games (after 10 p.m.) to your heart's content without children running around everywhere, and at the same time have a beer? There's also the huge sports bar-type side of the place with pool tables and TVs and the like. Basically something for everyone. The best part of it is that the food is great!

--

Jeffrey Fehervari

So you have never been to the Dave & Buster's in Philly?!

Well, before I went over to Europe, I would go there weekly with a few friends, play some pool and hang out at the bar. The food is good bar food -- nothing fancy, but good, though a little pricey. The games are always good. I still love video games, and the atmosphere is good.

The biggest problem I have is that it was always too crowded to play pool on the weekends. Sometimes we would go, and there would be a two- or three-hour wait for a table. And the bar and restaurant were always packed on the weekends.

But in all, it is a great date place, and a pretty good place to play pool in Philly if you are not in the mood to go to a shady pool hall. Hope this helps.

--

Rob Perri

If you are a kid who likes loud establishments with lots of games and average food, then this is nirvana. Like a kid going to Vegas. If you are an adult, this place is a migraine headache after an hour.

--

Grover Maxwell

I've been to the one here in Southern California (Irvine) and was not been impressed. It is too expensive for kids, and video games just do not excite a lot of the adults. In my age group, 28, most people here prefer a traditional bar to waste money in and leave the video games for the PC or Sega at home. At $1 or $2 a pop and more for the specialty games, it gets quite expensive for a three-minute game. What you spend in one night can get you five games for your PC, and the atmosphere is not all that great to spend that kind of money.

Dave & Busters also has one of the largest and most-expensive pieces of property in the center that it's in. I can't imagine that the place is turning much of a profit, if any at all. From what I have seen here, it does not look like it will last.

--

Mark Alonso

Let's look at the theme of Dave & Buster's. We will skip the financials and the price charts. Huge, loud, touristy, expensive arcade/eatertainment. Would I ever go there outside of a kid's birthday party? No. Would I pick Dave & Busters' for a party? Never. Bad food (Planet Hollywood). Huge overhead (urban sites, gigantic spaces). Arcade business (when did you ever get revved up about an arcade as an investment?).

--

Matt Biety