Dave & Buster’s opened Monday with its most die-hard fans showing up for the morning opening of the place that has been dubbed “Chuck E. Cheese’s for adults.”
The opening at 212 E. River Park Circle, at the southeast corner of Friant Road and Highway 41 in Fresno, drew a small crowd but is sure to attract more as word that it’s open gets out.
Customers were invited in to the combination of arcade games, restaurant and bar after a brief grand opening ceremony.
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Among the most colorful customers was Jill Bernstein of Sunnyvale. She loves the Dave & Buster’s in San Jose, but traveled six hours – via bus and train while in a wheelchair – and dressed up as Cinderella for the opening.
She says the Dave & Buster’s back home is her “hangout place” and thought it would be fun to dress up in her Cinderella Halloween costume, complete with face glitter and a tiara.
“I just love Dave & Buster’s, period,” she says. “I just thought it would be perfect. I decided it would be fun.”
She brought stuffed penguins she won from the prize room in San Jose as a present for a manager transferring from the San Jose location to the Fresno location.
Mostly adults were checking out the place Monday morning, but Dave & Buster’s is open to all ages. It has a bar and customers were walking around the games with a glass of beer in hand.
People under age 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is 25 or older. Adults can chaperone up to six people each.
One such young person was Emily Montes, 12, of Fowler – yes, her mom took her out of school for the day.
Emily “trains” for the claw machine game by watching YouTube videos that detail how to win prizes. Half an hour after the opening she had won four giant balls and two stuffed animals.
She honed her skills by going to the Dave & Buster’s in Milpitas, during visits to family there.
“I know it’s more ‘adult,’ ” says her mom, Maria Montes, but “we come for the games and the food.”
Dave & Buster’s has 230 employees who were hired from 7,800 applications.
The city of Fresno had warned about possible traffic backups on the already busy Friant Road/Highway 41 exit. Construction for the Bus Rapid Transit project also could have complicated traffic in the area.
Fresno Police Lt. Joe Gomez said no traffic problems were noted at the opening.
And there was plenty of parking available Monday in the center it shares with several large office buildings.
Dave & Buster’s – one of the most highly anticipated new businesses in town in years – will likely draw an even bigger crowd as people get out of work and come on the weekends.
Unlike grocery stores and new chain restaurants that draw hundreds with the promise of prizes and free food, Dave & Buster’s opening was relatively low key.
The first person in line, Valerie Vasquez of Fresno, won a teddy bear and a “power card” – Dave & Buster’s version of game tokens – with $100 loaded on it.
“We wanted to be the first ones in line to a Dave & Buster’s,” she says – even though neither she nor her co-worker Mark Tobias of Fresno had ever been to a Dave & Buster’s before.
They got there at 8:30 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m opening. She’s a mail carrier and the building is on her route.
“This was all dirt” at first, she says, adding that she’s watched the building go up over the last few months.
Dave & Buster’s is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, it’s open from 10 a.m. to midnight.