The much anticipated Dave & Buster’s in Whitehall opens at noon on Monday.
The restaurant, sports bar and game center replaced a number of outbuildings at the Lehigh Valley Mall on Mac Arthur Road, including a former Wendy’s and Friendly’s and an office building that had previously housed tenants such as the Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce.
The unique destination is expected to be an economic boost to Whitehall’s retail scene as it brings in people from outside of the area.
The closest Dave & Busters’ are in Philadelphia and King of Prussia.
Jeffrey Hartwyk, general manager of the Whitehall Dave & Buster’s, said even before they opened they had people coming to the door trying to come in.
“People aren’t only coming by, but since our phone line has been set up it’s been ringing off the hook,” he said.
People want to know when they’re going to be open, what specials they have and most importantly – what are the safety precautions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Although the pandemic didn’t stop the opening of the location, it has changed the opening and added challenges for Hartwyk.
He not only has to sell Dave & Buster’s as a destination for fun – something the chain is used to doing – he has to sell it as a place people will be safe while having that fun.
Hartwyk said they have many of the more common safety protocol in place. Mask-wearing will be required for both staff and guest, unless they’re sitting at a table and eating.
Seating will be kept 6-feet apart and the location will only let in 670 people at a time compared to the 1,350 the space can normally serve.
But because part of the fun is playing games, Hartwyk said they’ve had to go further.
Games that are close together will only have every other game working.
There will be sanitation stands where guests can grab gloves and use hand sanitizer.
There is also dedicated staff, called captains, who will be part security and part greeter and will make rounds through the gaming area to make sure masks are worn and everyone is social distancing properly.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Dave & Buster’s concept, Hartwyk said he’s heard people describe it as a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.
“But, I think we’re a bit more than that,” he said. “We’re really a place to come see a game in our bar. And, we don’t serve bar food, we have a full menu of restaurant quality food.”
The restaurant area has everything from entrees to sandwiches and salads, but Hartwyk said the most popular item on the menu tends to be their chicken nachos, which features marinated, shredded tinga chicken over house-made nachos with plenty of toppings and cheese.
They also have a full line of specialty cocktails. He said the favorite seems to be the strawberry margarita, which is made with strawberry ice cubes, so the flavor gets better as the ice melts.
The midway area, he said, has something for everyone.
Generation Xers will find some classic video games like Space Invaders and Pac Man.
For those seeking the most modern gaming there are virtual reality platform games, including Jedi Dojo, where players get to wield a light saber.
There of course is also a wide variety of carnival-style games where players can earn tickets to redeem in the prize shop.
Because of COVID-19 hours have been reduced to meet state guidelines.
The bar will be open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.