Dave & Buster’s is growing fast.
The arcade for grown-ups reported comparable sales were up an impressive 11% in the second quarter. Dave & Buster’s has expanded to 73 locations and reported revenues of nearly $750 million.
But before it was a publicly traded entertainment empire, Dave & Buster’s had an allegedly dubious history, according to an article in Arkansas Business.
Founder James “Buster” Corley started a bar and restaurant called Buster’s in Little Rock, next door to a disco, steakhouse, arcade, and pizza chain.
“Buster’s, opened by Corley in 1978, was a legendary watering hole that, in addition to hosting yuppies, also attracted legislators, lobbyists and Arkansas ‘bond daddies,’ those peculiarly Southern securities salesmen (and most of them were men) who also proliferated in the 1980s,” writes Jan Cottingham at Arkansas Business.
A local business executive described the original Buster’s as a “favored haunt of politicians, bond daddies and cocaine whores.”
Corley met Little Rock entertainment executive Dave Corriveau, and the two decided to open the first Dave & Buster’s in 1982 and operated as co-CEOs, with Corley handling the food and drink and Corriveau handling games and entertainment.
Corley sold Buster’s in 1986, and it closed five years later. Corriveau unexpectedly died in 2007.
But Corley says his sordid bar and restaurant paved the way for greater things.
“I came to town with nothing. I didn’t even own a car. And I got the chance to go all the way – literally – to Wall Street and Times Square,” he said.
We reached out to Dave & Buster’s for comment but didn’t hear back by deadline.
Read the full Arkansas Business piece here.