Dave & Buster’s: Family Style

 The dreary gray days of Pacific Northwest winters can make finding family entertainment options a bit more challenging. Luckily, here in Auburn, we have one bright new option to fight the gray.  One recent wet weekend, our family was suffering from cabin fever and ready for something new, so we decided to head to Auburn’s newest indoor entertainment haven: Dave & Busters at the Outlet Collection.
Game Play
 We arrived late morning and were able to walk right up to the front desk, where a friendly staff member gave us a quick orientation and sold us our Power Card for gameplay. (We decided to only purchase one card since our kids are young and we planned to stick together.) Then, it was game on!
I should explain here that we are not a video game family. We have an old Wii that hasn’t been hooked up to a TV in at least five years. Our seven year old dabbles in Angry Birds. That’s it. So, Dave and Buster's, Let's Bounce, there were a fair amount of games at Dave & Buster’s that just didn’t appeal to us. However, there were also many games that we thoroughly enjoyed. My four year old still talks about the ping pong ball game “Let’s Bounce”, in which we bounced the little balls onto a field of lit squares and earned several tickets each time. The seven-year-old loved the virtual bowling game “Lane Master”, especially when he got to the bonus “golden pin” frame with 100 pins. We played an intense game of air hockey in which gobs of tiny pucks were released at several points, giving both sides ample opportunity to rack up the points. The little one scored the biggest in the drop-a-ball game, dropping several balls in the bonus ball hole and then the deal-sealer into the jackpot hole. She earned over 530 tickets in that one game!
We got about an hour of playing time sharing the Power Card that we loaded with about $30. Once our Power Card balance had run dry, we wandered to the prize store to check out the goods. I was actually impressed by the lack of tiny junk they offered. There were a few bins of low-ticket count candies and trinkets, but most of the prizes were more substantial. Perhaps it was because of this, or maybe they were just hungry, but my kids decided we should hold on to our prize tickets, which are stored on the Power Card, until another visit. The parents were completely okay with that decision.
Dining Experience

Next, we headed to the sports-bar style restaurant to check in for lunch. Despite there being several open tables, we were told the wait would be 10-15 minutes. So, we crossed the entrance area to the other restaurant (tucked in a corner, it seemed quieter) to check on the wait there. Again, there were several open tables but a wait of 30 minutes. It seemed odd that on a Saturday afternoon they wouldn’t have enough wait staff to cover the full restaurants. Nevertheless, we went back to the sports restaurant and were seated shortly thereafter.

 The sports-bar themed restaurant was definitely that; it was filled with oversized projection screens

Dave and Busters, Dave and Buster's, Auburn, Outlet Collection
Photo by Auburn Examiner

showing a variety of sporting events, the booth we sat on was upholstered in fabric resembling the skin of a basketball, and the names of all of our area’s sports teams were emblazoned on the wall. Drinks take time because of the odd layout of the place: servers must walk out of the restaurant and into the bar area in the middle of Dave &Buster’s for all drinks. Food also comes from the far side of the establishment near the other restaurant. I do not understand why restaurants do this to their waitstaff, or to their customers, but then again I am not an expert in restaurant design.

 The menu is big and full of high-calorie fare. (At one point a manager stopped at the table next to us and commented that he liked the dish the customer was eating, especially on busy weekends because the dish was “lots of calories, for sure”—I’m not sure if the customer was offended, but it did make me feel awkward.) I wasn’t feeling too adventurous and opted for a simple cheeseburger with onion rings (at an extra charge). After quite a long wait, we saw our order circle the restaurant on a tray, be offered to the wrong table, and then be walked back to the far-away kitchen. A few minutes later, it returned and was delivered to us, albeit a bit cold. The burger was overcooked and dry and I received fries instead of onion rings. Our server was gracious and corrected that error, and I’m glad she did. I will know going forward not to order the onion rings again. Our kids both liked their pretzel dogs, so that was a win. My husband seemed less impressed with his pasta dish, but he said it was “okay”.
All in all, our restaurant experience at Dave &Buster’s was underwhelming, which our server probably picked up on. She stopped to chat with us near the end of our meal, asking the kids some questions and taking the time during one of her few lulls in serving needs to spend with us. She indicated that the Dave &Buster's management was still trying to obtain more space within the Outlet Collection in order to add more gaming features, like billiards and bowling. She seemed to genuinely like working there and cared about the future of Dave &Buster’s. She and all the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful, which tells me they must be doing something right beyond the fun, flashy arcade.
If they can improve upon the dining experience, Dave and Buster’s will soon be near the top of the list of fun places to spend a few hours as a family on a rainy Auburn day.
Dave and Buster's
Inside the Outlet Collection (on the Walmart and Movie Theater side)
1101 Outlet Collection Dr. SW
Auburn, WA 98001
(253) 258-3600
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daveandbusters/
Food Type: American
Delivery: None found
Note: Persons under 18 years old must be accompanied by a guardian age 25+ with a max of 6 persons per guardian.

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