Franchise Dave & Buster’s celebrated the opening of its first location in the Garden State Tuesday at the Woodbridge Center Mall in Woodbridge.
The opening of the 34,000-square-foot facility comes a few years after Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a legislation that allows game-based establishments to sell liquor.
“We’ve been looking at New Jersey for a while,” said Gary Passardi, Dave & Buster’s regional operations director. “There’s a lot of people that live here and all of our stores that are across bridges in New York do well. So, it was a natural evolution. Our store in Philadelphia does well, too, so it just naturally made sense to go into New Jersey.”
The location at the Woodbridge Mall will create 250 jobs for the town. Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said he expects to see an economic impact to the town in the form of visitors.
“[The economic impact to the town is that it’s] a whole lot of jobs for mostly our younger generation and it’s a great shot in the arm for our mall, which will now have the benefit of all the people coming here to eat and play and watch TV,” he said. “And [visitors] will spill over to the mall and buy other things.”
General Growth Properties, the REIT that owns and manages Woodbridge Center, said it is happy to be working alongside Dave & Buster’s to help it expand its footprint in the state.
The retail-oriented REIT said bringing Dave & Buster’s to the Woodbridge Center involved relocating seven different stores to allow for the new franchise to open its first location.
“Dave & Buster’s needs an outside entrance, so there are only a few locations within the property where you can have an outside entrance along 34,000 square feet,” said Amy Bellisano, senior general manager at GGP. “Every space was leased here and we needed to relocate them in order to configure the space appropriately and give it an outside entrance.
“The thing that works here for us as well is we have Red Robin, Applebee’s and Dave & Buster’s, so all of our restaurants that are inside the shopping center are all on the upper level of the Sears wing. We have two restaurants, Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden in the outer parcel, so from a customer standpoint it makes it very convenient for where to go in the property for all the restaurants."
Dave & Buster’s is working alongside GGP to expand to Willowbrook Mall, where it expects to open a second franchise in the state in less than three months. That franchise, Passardi said, will also generate around 250 new jobs.
The entertainment restaurant and bar will also open a store at GGP’s Staten Island Mall, Bellisano said.
“You’re seeing a lot of the Big-Box stores that are struggling right now, so you’re seeing a lot of malls reinvent as more of an entertainment venue,” Passardi said “We feel we naturally would fit well with that, so I think more sites are available than before.
“The excitement is phenomenal, people have been waiting at the doors to come in. I think Jersey will be a good growth market for us.”