Bellmawr will soon be back in the Supermarket business again, with the opening of the new Aldi store set for less than one month away, on September 14th, 2015! They've put up a billboard on a major highway to make the announcement.
I attended the Gloucester Township Planning Board meeting on Tuesday to listen in on two big project approvals, which included a presentation on the proposed Dave and Buster’s Entertainment Restaurant planned for the Outlet property off of Route 42. 42Freeway was the first to “break” this story back back in May, months before the “real” media picked up on it from public meeting notices. What initially started out as a packed house dwindled down to three of us at the start of the D&B presentation, after the other project presentation for a residential development was postponed to October. (more on that to come)
Dave and Buster’s Was Approved
Dave and Buster’s has been working with the Township over the last few months to get to this final presentation review and approval. In the meeting there was some questioning back and forth regarding signage, trash disposal, and delivery schedules (only during the early morning), as well as some discussions on the need for high quality landscaping.
Overall the process moved relatively fast, and to cut to the chase… the project was approved.
Gloucester Township Planning without question does the best job of any community in preparing agenda documents, and the one for this month’s meeting was an amazing 180 pages long! That being said, it would be awesome if the presentation boards used during the meeting are angled in a way that the public can also see them, as they do in Deptford! No harm, no foul… I listened to the details of the discussions and after the meeting I was given a glossy presentation package with image renderings of the facility!
Location and Layout
So four paragraphs in, I guess I’ll finally start describing what this project is! Dave and Busters is a national chain of Entertainment Restaurants (with Bars) featuring an extensive variety of arcade game, beach style “win ticket” prizes, and other very unique entertainment offerings.
Many people have been to the Philadelphia location on Delaware Ave (which could he closing soon), That Philadelphia location is considered an early “flagship” location and is incredibly large at 70,000 sq ft. The new Gloucester Township facility will be almost half that size at 40,000 sq ft but a little larger than the new Edge Fitness in Deptford! Don’t be fooled… this is still a big facility where they expect to support about 500 visitors! Dave and Busters now has over 100 locations and the new facilities fit a more modern and standardized pattern of size and features, where as the Philadelphia location is very custom to the pier building it sits in.
The exact location of the Gloucester Township Dave and Busters is directly across from the Outlets, with Route 42 on the other side. This 6 acre plot of land was previously approved for three buildings including an Applebees. The Applebees apparently is not coming. The eatery will have close access to Route 42, Black Horse Pike, two bridges over Route 42 which lead to Camden County University.
I believe it was stated that Dave and Buster’s will take over ownership of the 6 acre property. It is a great location that with just the Outlets or just D&B is not very strong… but together they make the destination very powerful.
There were be multiple entrances into the parking lot and they are planning on 400+ parking spots, which is significant! The facility is many things in one, from restaurant, bars, gaming area and private parties… so they need room for a lot of people!
The building exterior is very modern and geometric, with bright lighting which changes shades of color at night. This will really help liven up the area and should get attention from commuters passing by.
The flow of visitors in the building starts with two dining areas on either side of the entrance, a bar just past the dining area on the right with a path/hallway along side the bar heading back to the large gaming area. The position of the bar seems to be so that it can on one side offer a more traditional sports bar setting, while on the other face into the action of the arcade area. In the large back arcade area are private rooms for special events and the back corner has the ticket prize center area
At this time there is no indication of the games to be available.
At the end of the meeting I spoke to the only other two people there for the presentation (happy to see them but they were primarily there for the housing project presentation which was postponed!). They were wondering about liquor licenses… “Where did they get one?”. Well the reality is Gloucester Township has a lot of available licenses, considering how many alcohol serving establishments in its borders!
While I don’t know exactly where the license is coming from, I see they following possibilites:
- Applebees Outlets: Proposed but never developed
- Ruby Tuesday: Yes, the same eatery in the Deptford Mall has owned a license in GT for YEARS, and also one in Washington Township (which transferred to Hollydell)
- GT Liquors recently transfered a license that is not in use, and I believe this is from the Freeway golf course?
- Bruno’s Bar! Just a few weeks ago, the Glendora local spot on the Black Horse Pike surprisingly closed. Hmmmmm….
While they did not discuss any tax breaks in the planning meeting (it’s a council thing to approve, actually), one can assume there will be a tax break for the development. It’s a standard part of the the Township’s package to bring in new commercial development.
Honestly, I heard about Dave and Buster’s looking in this area almost 2 years before it got to the GT planning board, but the initial rumors where putting it in Deptford, in the Sears building of the Mall. Two differences with Deptford tho; there is really only one unused liquor license and I understand the owner doens’t want to part with it cheaply, and… from everything I’ve seen Deptford has never played the tax break game.
But you really can’t knock Deptford overall as they have seen explosive growth and big signings the last 5 years, with several big projects still to come. My big concern though is always the heart of the retail universe… the Deptford Mall. But could this be a double-whammy to the still strong mall in that it misses out on a big visitor draw, and then has to compete with it just miles away? It’s like making a trade in baseball to a team in the same division… ya just don’t want it to happen.
A Wise Sage! “Eh, an Applebees?”
I mostly stay away from negative pieces. I am the Guy Fieri of Retail News… but two years ago when an Applebee’s was approved for the Outlet properties, I put on my “eh” hat and wrote this:
I’m a little disappointed that it’s an Applebee’s. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Applebee’s and we visit several times a year. I’ve had more than my share of their Perfect Margaritas. Its just that in the 42Freeway readership area, there is one in every major town and neighborhood. I would’ve preferred a more unique eatery for the Outlets
So of course the Applebee’s did not happen… and you can’t get more unique and exciting than a Dave and Buster’s, especially with the prospects of the Philadelphia location closing! Hey I’m not saying you should thank me for this, but… ha!
While not discussed in the Planning Board meeting, the Mayor earlier said they are looking at an early 2020 opening.
More information on this project, how I found out about it.. and some retail insight, can be found in this May article!