Dave & Buster's having fun
Dave & Buster's opened its doors in July 2011 on International Drive. (Photo by Dave Raith).
ORLANDO – It took only a second for Julie DiStefano-Walker to see a boy looking upset about something, and she went right over to him and made it clear what she wanted.
“Come on,” she said, “let me see you smile.”
Smiling, after all, is a part of DiStefano-Walker’s central job – convincing people that at a place like Dave & Buster’s, there are no good reasons not to be having a terrific time.
“We try to be everything to everybody,” she said.
DiStefano-Walker is the senior corporate sales representative for Dave & Buster’s, which opened at 8986 International Drive last July, and since then has been attracting plenty of customers with their arcade filled with a diverse collection of video and and other games to play, simulation rides, a store filled with prizes for the tickets that people win through these games, and a café that serves meals, desserts and drinks.
“Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are our busiest days,” said server Joey Spada. “The weekends and Wednesdays are half-priced days.”
On Saturdays, in fact, the game room can become packed with crowds of all ages – an ideal location for families that want a fun place to enjoy together, noted Paul Clunan, the general manager.
“We’re extremely busy on Saturdays,” he said.
Inside Dave & Buster’s, there’s a wide selection of games to play: Ski Ball, Super Shot basketball, Bling King, the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, Rambo Sega, NFL 2 Minute Drill, Terminator Salvation, Wheel of Fortune, and Deal or No Deal, among many others.
Inside the store, there’s everything from a gigantic Scooby Doo doll to an IPad, available for those who can rack up thousands of those Dave & Buster’s arcade coupons.
“We just have video games here,” said DiStefano-Walker. “We’re a little smaller than some of the oither Dave & Buster’s, but that’s okay.”
For one thing, folks playing in the arcade can take those Dave & Buster’s coupons and put them on a power card to use in the future – or take that power card to another Dave & Buster’s location to spend it there.
“You can save your tickets to put them on your power card, and you can go to Atltanta and play there and bring your tickets here,” DiStefano-Walker said.
Dave & Buster’s in located in the perfect spot for foot traffic along the very pedestrian and tourist-friendly International Drive corridor, and it’s also within walking distance of the Orange County Convention Center and the business travelers and convention visitors that it attracts.
“We’re very close to the Convention Center,” DiStefano-Walker said. “One of the things we do here is bring in a lot of tour and travel folks. We’re able to bring in the Brazilian market a lot.”
The cafe at Dave & Buster's on International Drive is known for its Dave's Double cheeseburger. (Photo by Dave Raith).
The café has a wide selection of meals to choose from, and a drink menu as well. Spada said one item in particular really seems to appeal to diners.
“I would say it would be a Dave’s Double, a cheeseburger with two five-ounce patties and four layers of cheese,” she said. “It’s one of our most popular items.”
In addition to being the ideal place to escape life’s pressures and just have fun and a relaxing meal, Dave & Buster’s goes out of its way to be a good neighbor by making the café and private meeting rooms available for special occasions, from parties to business luncheons.
“We do a lot of events,” DiStefano-Walker said, “and we also do corporate events. We can do a complete buyout, when a company comes in and takes it for the entire night. A lot of times corporate events will come in and use our rooms. We also do a lot of networking events here.”
Dave & Buster's has meeting rooms available for special events. (Photo by Dave Raith).
They also work with city leaders to make the arcade available to underprivileged teens, and have hosted special visits for organizations like the Coalition for the Homeless and local youth programs.
“We have a lot of youth groups in the city, and all of those groups come here and they can play here,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them, but it’s a great opportunity for us, too. We have been so touched by these kids.”
It’s also heartwarming, DiStefano-Walker said, to see the kids having such a great time there.
“That’s what this is about – having fun,” she said.
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