Bethany Clough

It’s loud and over-the-top: Get ready for Dave & Busters to open Monday

With games that make people scream, boozy snow cones with blinking lights inside and a “caveman combo” of ribs and sliders served in a bucket, the new Dave & Buster’s is wildly different than anything in Fresno.

The all-ages entertainment place with a restaurant, sports bar and games opens Monday, Oct. 17. The grand opening celebration starts at 10:30 a.m., and the place officially opens at 11 a.m.

Dave & Buster’s is at 212 E. River Park Circle, at the southeast corner of Friant Road and Highway 41. Fresno Bee journalists got a sneak peek Thursday during a media event.

The first thing people notice when they walk into Dave & Buster’s is noise and lights. The game area has 140 games ranging from familiar Star Wars video games to four-person air hockey and a giant Connect Four game.

Dark Escape 4 has players wear anti-microbial 3D glasses to shoot the undead. When a really big creature launches at the players, the seat starts shaking, scaring screams out of players.

Instead of tokens, players use “power cards.” Winnings can be redeemed for prizes that include teddy bears, inflatable emojis, a 44-inch-tall pink stuffed gorilla, even an iPad.

A team at Dave & Buster’s corporate office vets the prizes to make sure they’re something customers want.

The restaurant area features murals of Fresno landmarks: the downtown water tower, Yosemite and more.

The large menu is Dave & Buster’s take on great American classics, like burgers, ribs and salads, said Byron Generalao, executive kitchen manager for Dave & Busters.

“But we take it to the extreme,” Generalao said. “We make it fun and innovative. I mean, where else can you find deep-fried spareribs or a burger with a buffalo wing on top?”

The menu is purposely huge to make it easy for everyone to find something they like.

Other items include the Bang Bang Chicken, a concoction featuring chunks of fried chicken mixed with spicy Thai peanut noodles, the tenderloin pasta with bacon-wrapped shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce.

Dave & Busters has several creative drinks, from adult snow cones with alcohol in them – the “glow cone” has that little blinking light – and cocktails made with Red Bull. There are also beer, bourbons and whiskey.

A 100-ounce beer tube with a spigot at the bottom can be shared among four people.

Food and game credits are sold in packages. For example, a design-your-own buffet for $39.99 comes with two entrees, a salad and two sides, with $20 of game play on the card.

The sports bar has giant screens and TVs, and shows all the major games. Special deals are available for happy hour, Sunday football specials, and games are half-price every Wednesday.

The Van Ness and Yosemite rooms can be rented out for events, whether it’s a cocktail party or a corporate meeting. The entire Dave & Buster’s can be rented for a post-prom lock-in, for example, or daytime events.

Dave & Buster’s employs about 250 people.

“It’s a great market,” said Gary Passardi, regional operations director.

Fresno’s demographics – income, population and particularly the number of people ages 21 to 35 – were a good fit for Dave & Buster’s, he said.

“And there wasn’t a lot of entertainment options … so why not?” he said.

If you go Monday, expect some traffic congestion on the already-busy Highway 41 offramp onto Friant Street, complicated by nearby construction for the Bus Rapid Transit project.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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