That familiar, steady hum of tickets spitting out of machines has gone away, and there's no need for lugging around pockets filled with tokens.
But arcade game enthusiasts, take note: More than two years after it was announced, Louisiana's first Dave & Buster’s restaurant is set to open Monday in New Orleans.
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The local arrival of the popular Dallas-based restaurant chain, known for blending casual dining with arcade games and billiard tables, represents the latest chapter in a flurry of building activity in the Central Business District.
It's within walking distance of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which will certainly feed it a captive audience ahead of major events at the giant arena.
The 40,000-square-foot Dave & Buster's is on the top floor of a new six-story building that will include ground-level retail and parking for 400 vehicles. It was built on a former surface parking lot at 1200 Poydras St., at the corner of Loyola Avenue.
Founded in an empty Dallas warehouse in 1982, Dave & Buster’s had more than 90 locations in the U.S. and Canada as of January, including 11 that opened last year.
The restaurants, billed as "the official headquarters to eat, drink, play and watch sports," are often compared to a Chuck E. Cheese’s for adults: a mix of casual dining and more than 165 arcade games, billiard tables and flat-screen televisions for watching sports and other events.
General Manager Jackie Wash expects to also draw an after-work crowd, with happy-hour drink specials from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dave & Buster's bread-and-butter audience is people in their 20s and 30s, including those who work in the Central Business District and will be drawn in by the happy-hour specials.
It also could find success locally by tapping into tourists and conventioneers, perhaps pulling business from Fulton Alley’s bowling lanes or Barcadia, a bar and grill that features classic video games in the 600 block of Tchoupitoulas Street.
"We do everything from malls to suburban locations to big-city locations," Wash said of the chain.
In addition, the availability of on-site parking will likely increase the odds that suburban residents and families will be willing to drive in to visit the business.
The company interviewed nearly 3,000 applicants, ultimately hiring about 300 of them to mostly part-time positions, Wash said.
It took 14 semi-trailer trucks to carry all the games from Dallas to New Orleans, making drop-offs in half-hour intervals over a two-day period that began two weeks ago, she said.
The restaurant and bar's layout is designed to encourage customers to move seamlessly from one area to the next.
The games are operated using magnetic strip cards that are stocked with credits, which can be purchased at an automated kiosk. The bulk of the games that pay out tickets just add the winnings to players' cards, rather than making the lucky customers carry them around.
Prizes range from branded Dave & Buster's novelty items to high-end electronics, including some that may appeal to the restaurant's core millennial clientele, such as a specialty blender or a Keurig coffee machine.
For Dave & Buster's, the gaming piece is a major component of the company's bottom line, accounting for roughly 55 percent of its total revenue in 2016, according to financial reports.
In recent years, the CBD has enjoyed a wave of hotel construction and conversion projects that have pushed the number of hotel rooms downtown to close to 25,000. In addition, an increased demand for center-city living, including by young renters and second-home buyers, has made the neighborhood appealing to major chain retailers.
A decision on retail tenants for the ground floor is still being made, according to Christopher Robertson of Poydras Properties II LLC, the site's owner. The space will likely include multiple tenants, including a restaurant, but he said a decision is still months away.
Kurt Weigle, president and CEO of the Downtown Development District, said the Dave & Buster's opening shows the stretch of Poydras Street around Loyola Avenue has come a long way in the past decade, in terms of offering more bars and restaurants, particularly during Saints season.
On the other side of Poydras, two sports bars and restaurants owned by the same Baton Rouge management group, Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar and Happy's Irish Pub, opened in 2011.
Much of the recent development — like the Dave & Buster's — has taken place on what were formerly parking lots. That trend is welcome to local business officials who are eager to see sites put into more productive commerce, but it may annoy some longtime Saints fans, who see their number of tailgating sites dwindling.
"We've had this explosion of places along Poydras," Weigle said. "This is just another example of that. There was a point where we really didn't have a sports bar downtown, and now we've got several spread throughout downtown."
He added, "For me, this is continuing to check all the boxes of what people expect when they either live or work or visit a great downtown in America."