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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Dave & Buster’s to open in Gainesville in early February

Celebration Pointe to house the ninth location of the entertainment complex in Florida

The Celebration Pointe location marks the debut of Dave & Buster's in Gainesville.
The Celebration Pointe location marks the debut of Dave & Buster's in Gainesville.

Good, clean fun is coming to Gainesville.

A new Dave & Buster’s is set to open at Celebration Pointe on Feb. 8, marking the ninth location in Florida and first in Gainesville. The entertainment complex, located at 3023 SW 45th St., will offer a sports bar and an amusement section, complete with a variety of arcade games and a virtual reality ride.

The project was initially announced in March 2019 and slated to open in mid-2020, but the team in place was dissolved following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to general manager Kendrick Smith. When the project was rebooted and the start date was pushed back to early February, Smith relocated from his managerial position in Memphis to helm the Gainesville location.

Smith and his team are still in the process of hiring employees for the 18,500-square-foot complex, looking to build a staff of about 135 members in total. Interviews are being conducted at Hotel Indigo, located at 5020 SW 30th Lane, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. until Jan. 24, and walk-ins are welcome.

Opening during a pandemic has put safety at the forefront of all planning, said Smith. In addition to local and state ordinances, Dave & Buster’s has put extensive protocol in place, including sanitizing stations, mask requirements, and a full-time cleaning staff. After months of research, Smith said the guidelines represent the most effective way to provide both fun and safety.  

“We wanted to make sure that we could execute and give the true Dave & Buster’s experience to everybody, but at the same time be safe,” he said.

Guests will have the option to access the arcade area through the purchase of a Power Card, starting at $10 for 48 gameplay chips, as well as dine at a full-service restaurant and liquor bar. Housed in the bar will be the “WOW Wall,” a 40-foot TV screen meant to optimize the sports-watching experience.

From families in search of arcade fun to sports fans getting ready for the big game, Smith said the newest Dave & Buster’s will have something for everyone. Though children and families represent a major marketing focus for the establishment, college students can also expect an enjoyable time.

Some, like Emily Shelest, can already attest to the franchise’s entertainment value. Shelest, a 21-year-old UF health education and behavior junior, visited the Jacksonville location in November 2019 as part of a date function with her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha.

“It was really fun just hanging out with all of our friends and being there with such a big group of people that I knew,” she said.

The decision to bring a Dave & Buster’s to Gainesville was founded largely by the city’s growth in recent years – a rise in new businesses and residential buildings signaling increased economic opportunity, said Smith. 

“Gainesville is on the up-and-up,” Smith said. “Dave & Buster’s definitely wanted to be a part of it.”

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Heather Bushman

Heather Bushman is a fourth-year journalism and political science student and the enterprise elections reporter. She previously wrote and edited for the Avenue desk and reported for WUFT News. You can usually find her writing, listening to music or writing about listening to music. Ask her about synesthesia or her album tier list sometime.

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