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Dave & Buster's 'eatertainment' venue moves into Massapequa

Finishing touches are put on Dave & Buster's

Finishing touches are put on Dave & Buster's in Walmart's former space at Westfield Sunrise Mall in Massapequa Friday. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Dave & Buster’s is moving into Walmart’s former space in Massapequa, as competition in the so-called “eatertainment” industry heats up.

The Dallas-based operator of venues that combine arcades, sports bars and restaurants will open its third location on Long Island — in Westfield Sunrise Mall — on May 24.

“We decided to open in this area . . . because it’s a great location. We love it,” said Daniel Eurell, general manager.

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc. had 105 locations in the United States and Canada at the end of 2017 — 53 have opened since the first quarter of 2011 — and 14 to 15 more are planned for fiscal year 2018, which ends Feb. 3, 2019.

The growth of Dave & Buster’s is being fueled in part by the growing availability of large retail spaces left vacant as brick-and-mortar stores shutter, said Jake Bartlett, a restaurant analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, an Atlanta-based investment bank. Major retailers closed more than 5,000 stores in 2017 alone, largely because of competition from Amazon and other online retailers.

“Five years ago it was harder to find a location to accommodate a 40,000-square-foot Dave & Buster’s. . . . There’s a bit of a land grab,” Bartlett said.

Walmart closed its two-level store at Westfield Sunrise Mall in 2015. Dave & Buster’s will occupy 36,680 square feet of the discount retailer’s former space on the second floor. The former Walmart’s lower level was leased to Dick’s Sporting Goods in April 2017.

Dave & Buster’s has strong returns on investment — 52.6 percent — and mature locations bring in about $12 million annually in sales, Bartlett said.

The chain is still the biggest player in its industry, but the high returns are attracting more competitors to entertainment-focused dining, or eatertainment, geared toward adults, especially millennials. Some other entrants on Long Island:

• Round 1 Bowling & Amusement, a Japanese-owned bowling alley and arcade game company with 21 locations in the United States, opened its first Long Island venue in a 50,000-square-foot space in Broadway Mall last July.

• Dallas-based Topgolf, which has 41 golf entertainment centers in the United States and elsewhere that feature high-tech hitting bays, games and restaurants, has proposed building its first facility on Long Island — a 59,000-square-foot venue on a vacant industrial site between Lakeside Drive and Morris Avenue in Holtsville. The project needs zoning and planning board approvals for building variances from Brookhaven, a town spokesman said.

• Since 2016, Manhattan-based Bowlero Corp., which owns more than 300 bowling centers nationwide, has converted two local bowling alleys, AMF Sayville Lanes and AMF Commack Vet Lanes, into upscale Bowlero centers. The venues feature high-tech arcades, bowling lanes with black lights, video walls and sports bars. Bowlero Corp. owns 11 venues on Long Island, two of which will be converted to Bowleros this year.

The Dave & Buster’s in Massapequa will be the chain’s 114th location; local sites include stores at the Source in Westbury and Islandia Shopping Center.

A location in Farmingdale closed in 2015.

The new location will feature a design that is more contemporary, with more televisions and seating, Eurell said.

“The whole sports lounge . . . there is not a place where you can’t get a good view of a television,” he said.

Dave & Buster’s, founded in 1982, targets an audience of young adults — 21 to 39 years old — consumers who are seeking new experiences and want them to be worthy of social media posts, according to a company report released in January.

Westfield Sunrise is owned by Australia-based Westfield Corp., whose 35 malls in the United States and United Kingdom also include Westfield South Shore in Bay Shore.

Like many mall landlords nationwide, Westfield Corp. is working to attract more movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, entertainment centers, restaurants and other tenants that aren’t as susceptible to the closures and bankruptcies that have befallen brick-and-mortar clothing and department stores.

Also, they’re striving to draw younger people, who are more driven to spend money on experiences, such as social outings and dining out, said Adam Cummings, who leads the mall retailer representation practice in North America for CBRE Group Inc., a Los Angeles-based real estate company.

Dave & Buster’s rounds out Westfield Sunrise’s offerings, said Vanessa Mitton, mall spokeswoman.

“So now this is a place where you can shop, dine, play, work out . . . go to the spa. You can really literally do everything all under one roof,” she said.

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