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Dave and Busters: Too Awesome for Awesometown

More internet buzz and speculation as the latest rumor to fly is that of the food and games in one entertainment chain Dave and Buster’s opening up a location somewhere in Santa Clarita. According to social media comments, restaurateurs in Santa Clarita supposedly had knowledge that Dave and Buster’s was, without a doubt, opening in Santa Clarita.

Offering casual dining, cocktails and a plethora of arcade and carnival games, Dave and Buster’s seems as if they will be the last men standing in the attempt at bridging the gap between kids’ playtime and adult playtime. D&B acquired the Jillian’s chain which operated locally at Universal Studios City Walk in the early millennium, the only direct competitor of note, Gameworks, a joint venture between Sonic the Hedgehog maker Sega, Dreamworks SKG and Universal Studios (ironically) has been dying a slow death with five remaining locations out of once two dozen or so nationwide including a prominent location on the Las Vegas Strip, and four in SoCal including Irvine, Long Beach and Orange. A location remains open in Ontario, should you want to venture out to give it a look-see.

Dave and Buster’s operates six stores in SoCal, the closest being in Arcadia, but also in Irvine, LA/Westchester (opening just earlier this year), Ontario, Orange and San Diego. They heavily promote their “Eat and Play” combos which include dinner and a pre-paid game card at just $15 $16.99 (shows how much I’ve gone, the prices are up!). The food isn’t great, the drinks are probably overpriced and watered down, and you do get suckered into spending far too much of your paycheck on a skeeball game to win tickets just to redeem for a kitschy Dave and Buster’s branded tumbler which will sit in a box in your garage for 3-5 years until sold at a garage sale for 50 cents. But, if you want to just get together with some friends and don’t mind hanging around teens

Why would Dave and Buster’s want to open in Santa Clarita? Being the third largest city in Los Angeles County, it might make sense. Also, with the opportunity to draw on the Northern County population from the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys, it would be a perfect location, right? Sources indicate officials from the city of Santa Clarita had reached out to Dave and Buster’s in an effort to court their business in the SCV. (Dave and Busters’ locations are entirely corporately owned, there are no franchisees.)

Dave and Buster have taken a pass, and it isn’t the Newhall one.

Dave and Buster’s actually goes through great lengths to tell you, right on their website, what they’re looking for in their next location. Among those requirements is the real deal breaker for Santa Clarita – A “daytime” population of 700,000 – 1 Million people within ten miles.

 

10MileRadiusMall
An approximate radius of 10 miles within the Valencia Town Center, assumed preferred location of a potential Dave and Buster’s Site.  Map Courtesy:  City of Santa Clarita

By US Census Estimates, the SCV’s daytime population may be as low as 210,000.  Almost half a million short of where we need to be.  Because of Santa Clarita’s isolated location, surrounded by mountains, and valleys and forests and lakes (oh my!) we lose out there. If you draw a ten mile circle from the Valencia Town Center (where it would make the most sense to open a Dave and Buster’ you get a great coverage of the city and the county areas west and northwest of the city (Stevenson Ranch and Castaic) but then a lot of open space where next to nobody lives. Only a tiny sliver drops into the North Hills/Porter Ranch area. Even if that were to be considered, the fact that you have to drive a good half hour or so to get here, really excludes that part of the population base.

The big nail in the coffin is the fact that they’ve chosen a Hollywood location (rumored to be at Hollywood and Highland) to open sometime later this year. Hollywood would draw much of the same crowd that Santa Clarita would rely on from the San Fernando Valley, making SCV an undesirable location.

For family fun, looks like it’s still Mountasia.