When the kids were little we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s a handful of times. It was always a special treat because they knew it wasn’t the kind of place I like to go to or take them to. On stormy winter days or sweltering hot summer afternoons, Chuck E. Cheese was a break for me and a big deal for the kids. At 8 and 10 years old now, it’s still a big treat and I can’t deny that the kids don’t have fun there, but they are slowly outgrowing it. I had heard there were other places where the teens and tweens go, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect and whether I wanted to take my child there. I have memories of going to places with video games as a high school student, but the games of my day were few and far between, they were simple, less graphic, with less sophisticated graphics and I was 16 not 8.
On occasion, I bring my children to work events, and usually it is my more sophisticated diner, Isabelle, that joins me because she is a great plus one who is also willing to try new foods. When I got an invite to check out Dave & Buster’s, however, it had my son’s name in bright lights with sound effects all over it. He was very excited to go on a work outing with me, so we hopped into the car and took a quick drive up to Dave & Buster’s in Woburn. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I imagined a room filled with games for older kids, and perhaps a small snack bar/restaurant. Driving up to the building I knew already that what I had pictured in my mind was way off.
Space & Parking
Dave and Buster’s is a huge building with parking underneath the building (perfect for those really hot summer days and really snowy winter ones. Inside, there is a sports bar with a wrap around bar and a seating area, a restaurant, and several private spaces for birthday parties and larger group meetings. I believe my son mentioned a few times on the tour that he’d like to do his birthday party here next year.
Energy & Vibe
Dave and Buster’s is loud and full of energy, but even my noise sensitive child somehow managed to handle it all for the sake of playing games. I was worried that within minutes I would be overwhelmed and done with it all, but because the restaurant spaces are well laid out and spacious, we were able to relax and enjoy dinner and play games without feeling overwhelmed at all.
I also assumed that Dave and Buster’s would be full of teenagers and adult gamers, but in fact there were plenty of families with children from tykes and tweens to teens and grown siblings and colleagues.
We are a video game free house (well not exactly – we do have iPhone apps and Minecraft) so I’m happy to take my kids out to a place like Dave and Buster’s every once in a while to get their fill of video game action. I don’t love the “cheerleader” women in the games, and of course there are shooting games as well, but that’s the world we’re living in (like it or not) so I use these opportunities to talk to the kids about it. I ask them why they think those women are there and if it’s an appropriate depiction or setting. I ask them about guns and violence and remind them that in the real world guns are not a joke or a game. Just like fantasy vs. reality in books they understand that these games are not the real world.
One of the best parts of going to Dave and Buster’s is seeing the child in everyone. My husband has that 5 year old child sparkle in his eye when he gets behind the wheel of a race car game. I get a little wild with my air hockey paddle in hand and feel like a 10 year old again battling my brother on the air hockey table at some family event.
The food at Dave and Buster’s is a little bar food, a little bbq, and a little eclectic served in a fun way (faux cast iron pan), fondue, towering desserts. I recommend putting your name down on the list and then going to play some games while you wait. On the other hand, if you want to take advantage of some of the dine and play deals, ask your server about getting a game card when you order. Everything is explained on the menu.