Dave & Buster’s prepares for opening day
Southwestern Connecticut is weeks away from seeing its first Dave & Buster’s.
The restaurant and entertainment venue will open its new location at the Connecticut Post mall in Milford on Nov. 5, bringing a new reason for people to visit the commercial hub. “As the largest mall in Connecticut, we have a lot of space to fill,” said mall general manager Ken Sterba. “We see from our customers and shoppers that they want experiences.”
As e-commerce and online shopping giants like Amazon continue to change the landscape of the retail industry, shopping malls have felt the brunt of the impact as department store tenants like Macy’s, and J.C. Penney have dealt with store closures nationwide.
In Milford, the mall lost its J.C. Penney last year, leaving a two-floor, 200,000-square-foot vacancy that was recently filled by a Boscov’s. But those kind of moves are becoming increasingly hard to find.
“There is no longer this big pool of national retailers expanding their stores and storefronts and trying to push their products through retail venues and projects,” Sterba said.
As a result, malls have been trying to stay relevant during the industry flux, sometimes by adding new venues and tenants that create an experience-based appeal to visitors. Along with different restaurants, Connecticut Post mall has benefited from having its own movie theater to draw visitors, as well.
Sterba is hopeful that the addition of Dave & Buster’s will have a similar draw. Representatives from the national chain expect nothing less.
“We want to be recognized as having a great venue for dining out, meeting up with friends and being a place to escape to have fun,” said Alex Dubois, national marketing manager for Dave & Buster’s in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media.
The venue will occupy roughly 35,000 square feet of space at the mall and will offer a full 100-unit arcade, sports bar with dozens of TVs and a restaurant with a chef-crafted menu. It will also offer private rooms that visitors can reserve for parties and events.
Dubois said the chain plans to hire 200 workers to fill roles, including servers, bartenders, hosts, line cooks and game techs, and more.
The Milford venue is joining the chain’s only other state location in Manchester along with hundreds more nationwide. At one point, Bridgeport officials were in talks to bring a Dave & Busters to that city, but those plans never came to fruition.
While this will be the first Dave & Buster’s in southwestern Connecticut, other businesses along the same lines have been gaining in popularity, including in neighboring Orange with the Urban Air Adventure Park.
That 85,000-square-foot indoor amusement park opened in mid-July, boasting dozens of attractions under one roof like go-karts, laser tag, bowling, bumper cars, and arcade games, as well.
Boosters of the new restaurant say there is room for everyone.
“Dave & Buster’s is a national brand, and they are unique in their own right,” Sterba said. “There is really no concern for us.”