While thinking of a place to watch an Ohio State football game with our young children, my husband and I decided to visit Dave & Buster's at Polaris Fashion Place, 1554 Polaris Parkway. The restaurant seemed like a good fit for the four of us. It offered a sports bar with big-screen TVs for dad and a bustling arcade with more than 200 games for mom and the kids.
I figured, though, that we wouldn't be the first ones in this football-crazed city to come up with the idea, especially on a rain-soaked Saturday. But, likely because the Buckeyes were playing in Columbus, the place was far from packed.
There are two Dave & Buster's locations in central Ohio and more than 60 across the United States. The chain was founded in 1982 in Dallas by two friends, not surprisingly, named Dave and Buster. Earlier in their careers the two owned side-by-side businesses that attracted the same clientele. Buster ran a casual eatery, and Dave ran an arcade. Why not include both experiences under one roof, they thought.
The restaurant contains three areas: a dining room, sports bar and game room. We ate lunch first while watching the Buckeyes take on the Florida A&M Rattlers. Some of the wall-mounted, flat-screen screen TVs were as wide as 180 inches.
The menu is described as "fun gourmet," which boils down to traditional American dishes with some twists, such as a side of sweet-potato fries instead of French fries. The kids menu offers some interesting choices, too, such as linguine, Caesar salad and doughnut holes for dessert.
Our kids, though, could hardly keep still during lunch thinking about the flashing and buzzing games in the room around the corner.
We paid for our lunch and ordered Power Cards, one $10 card for each child that totaled $24 with a charge-up fee. Cards can be kept and used again later.
The usage went fast – about 15 minutes of play per each card. The best deals were the ones that spit out tickets that could be used to redeem prizes in the Winner's Circle. These included several Skeeball-like games and another game with piles of shiny gold coins that you tried to shove over the edge to win tickets.
In no time I was putting $10 more on each card to appease my ticket-hungry children, who were now collecting coils of them in plastic buckets, casino style.
We turned in all their tickets to be weighed, and they totaled about 750 points. The prize room was filled with kid-drooling prizes such as remote-controlled cars and Hello Kitty and Angry Bird toys. Top-shelf items included XBOX games, iPads and an electric guitar with amplifier. "Who earns enough points to claim these?" I thought.
Our loot included two strawberry suckers with laser lights, two neon-colored bracelets and a package of gummy bears. We also got to enjoy OSU's 76-0 victory over the Rattlers, allowing us to head home full and satisfied.
For more information, visit www.daveandbusters.com.