Fans of video games and adult beverages—especially when they are paired—will have a new haunt when Dave & Buster’s begins doling out food, drinks and game cards at the Long Beach Towne Center next month.
The popular barcade and restaurant chain is slated to open its doors in Long Beach on Sept. 19 with around 185 employees, according to the company.
“I’m excited,” the site’s general manager Stephen Allison said in an interview Wednesday. Allison, who has worked for the company for 22 years and has lived in Long Beach the last eight years, said he passed on other opportunities, waiting to work closer to home.
“I have been holding out for Long Beach for quite some time,” he said.
The long-awaited Long Beach location, first approved by the Planning Commission in August 2019, is the midway point between the two other nearest Dave & Buster’s locations in Torrance and Orange, which are 22 and 17 miles away, respectively.
While those and other “legacy stores” are about 65,000 square feet, Allison said most new locations, including Long Beach, will be smaller. The Towne Center site is just over 41,000 square feet and replaced the retail center’s food court and several small businesses, including Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks.
The space will feature around 180 games, Allison said—most, if not all, of which will be the same as other Dave & Buster’s locations. Among the games will be a four-player virtual reality attraction, he said. Players put on VR goggles and use a controller to play various games such as “Transformers” and “Top Gun.”
Allison said the VR game is updated regularly.
Like the games, the Long Beach location’s menu will be the same as other sites, Allison said.
“We try to keep it fresh as much as possible,” he said. “We don’t want the menu to get stale for our guests.”
The menu includes new limited time offers about every three months, Allison said, with the current offering being the Oktoberfest Burger—a cheeseburger topped with bratwurst.
For sports fans, Allison said the space will feature a 40-foot-wide, ultra-high-definition LED screen that can show multiple channels at once.
“Come by at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning during football, and you can sit in one chair and not have to move your head more than 15 degrees to see every single football game,” Allison said.
The Towne Center location also will include space for private events, Allison said, which can be separated into three rooms or opened up into one large area for over 100 people.
The leadership team is in the process of hiring, with the store about 60% staffed as of Wednesday, Allison said. The company is hiring everything from bartenders to servers to custodial staff.
Each Dave & Buster’s location also employs its own game technicians, Allison said. The company offers on-the-job training, which will teach entry-level technicians how to repair and maintain the video game consoles.
The company’s culture is what has kept him on board for over two decades, Allison said, first as an hourly employee working his way through college and then becoming a manager 11 years ago. He has worked at the Irvine location for the last 10 years.
Allison met his wife while she also was a manager of a Dave & Buster’s location. He also met his best friends, who went on to be his groomsmen.
Flexibility for its employees is a priority at Dave & Buster’s, Allison said, adding that it is an ideal workplace for people in school or as a second job.
When it opened in 1999, the Long Beach Towne Center instantly became a hotspot for shopping and entertainment. Over the last decade, however, its popularity has somewhat waned, plagued with vacancy and business turnover.
“We’re hoping to liven the Towne Center up and make it a hoppin’ place again,” said Allison, whose wife is Long Beach native and told him about the early days of the retail complex. “It’s lost its attraction a little bit, but Dave & Buster’s will help revitalize things.”