With more than 150 arcade and video games, seating for 250, wall-to-wall flat-screen televisions, and a menu with more than 50 items, the new Dave & Buster’s at Columbiana Centre hopes to create a "one-stop entertainment and dining destination."
Dave & Buster’s will open Monday at 11 a.m. in the former Sears store at the Harbison-area shopping center. On Thursday, members of the media were given a sneak preview. When customers first walk in, they will likely first notice the hundreds neon lights flashing from video games. Many patrons also are likely to be drawn to one of the largest restaurant bars in the Midlands.
Boasting a total of 30,000 squre feet, Dave & Buster’s has hired 215 people and may employ up to 250.
The Columbiana location marks the chain's second in South Carolina after opening the first two years ago in Greenville. A third location will open June 5 in Myrtle Beach, according to Gary Passardi, Dave & Buster's regional operations director.
"There's a lot of science that goes into us opening a location — it's not just the real estate that we look at, it's demographic and population studies and all of those items that determine if you'll be successful," said Gary Passardi, Dave & Buster’s regional operations director. "This store fits the mold in terms of what we're looking for in terms of sales potential and traffic and all of those things. And the mall is a great mall. Great traffic flow. We'll help the mall with traffic and they'll help us."
The company was attracted to Columbia because of the area’s large number of families with children and because of the University of South Carolina and other local colleges, Passardi said.
"That 21-35-year-old, play-together young adult group is a great market for us, and with the colleges here closeby, we expect to do very well," Passardi said.
Gamers at Dave & Busters are given a reloadable Power Card that is used to activate and pay for video and arcade games and also to keep track of points and rewards, which can be redeemed in the "Winner's Circle" shop. Prizes range from oversized rubber Dave & Buster's kickballs to video drones. On opening day, every guest age 21 and up will receive a free, pre-loaded $5 Power Card.
Though the mall closes at 9 p.m., Dave & Buster's — which has both a mall and exterior entrance — will remain open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The store opens at 11 a.m. daily.
"There's a lot of anticipation — we've been getting 10 to 12 calls a day with folks asking when they'll open,” said Columbiana general manager Andrew Peach. “It's a great draw for Columbia. It really caters to everybody and we expect it to pull folks in from all of Columbia's surrounding areas."