Open and shut: Fun, games and revamped menu await at Dave & Buster’s in Thousand Oaks

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This story was originally shared from VCStar and can be found here.

How big is the opening-soon Dave & Buster’s in Thousand Oaks?

So big that it’s hard to imagine the location’s previous tenant, Sports Authority, ever needing quite so much space to sell basketballs, athletic shoes and yoga gear before the store closed in 2016.

When it debuts at 11 a.m. Monday, the first Dave & Buster’s within the 805 area code will instead offer 32,000 square feet of dining, arcade games and sports-TV viewing. The kitchen, hidden from view by two pairs of swinging doors, adds another 5,000 square feet to the project.

The business employs more than 200 people in a mix of full- and part-time positions.

“It’s a great place to work because we promote from within,” said Brad Balderson, who started with the company nearly 15 years ago and worked his way up to general manager. He moved to the Conejo Valley from his previous post at Dave & Buster’s in Milpitas.

The Janss Marketplace location is the 15th Dave & Buster’s in California, and the 123rd in the history of the Dallas-based chain, which launched in 1982.

Proceeds from a Feb. 28 pre-opening VIP preview will go toward a donation made by Dave & Buster’s to the Ventura County Community Foundation’s fund for survivors of the Borderline shooting. The check will be presented during a pre-opening ceremony at 10:45 a.m. Monday, said Popeye Vasquez, regional marketing director for Dave & Buster’s.

The opening comes just as the chain has revamped its menus, which are described in media materials as “chef-crafted.”

Dishes include the plant-based Impossible Burger ($14.99), ancho Caesar grilled chicken lettuce wraps ($10.49) and Philly Cheesesteak Sliders & Goldfingers, aka breaded chicken ($16.29).

“Shareable and snackable” options include avocado toast with Mexican street corn ($10.99), a particular favorite of Byron Generalao, executive kitchen manager for Dave & Buster’s operations on the West Coast. But he and Balderson have been known to split an order of Cantina Nachos made with buffalo chicken or green chile steak ($13.79), Generalao said with a laugh.

Patrons can order a la carte and/or choose from a range of Eat & Play Combo packages that start at $17.99.

The cocktail list has also been retooled, with “recrafted recipe” notations next to drinks like the Jameson Long Island Tea. Other options include a strawberry watermelon margarita made with strawberry-puree ice cubes and Green Ghost Glow Kones, in which the titular glow comes from a waterproof lighted plastic cube at the bottom of the glass. (At the preview, I dug through the ice of my finished drink for the cube, wrapped it in a napkin and stashed it in my purse for another day.)

Beers on tap include regional selections like 805 from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.and Danish Red and Hoppy Poppy from Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. The usual suspects – think Corona and Coors Light – are available in bottles.

With its dimmed lighting and mirrored walls, the arcade has the disorienting feel of a casino floor. Games range from such longstanding favorites as Skee-Ball and a Bling King claw machine loaded with rubber duckies to Dragonfrost, a seated virtual-reality attraction in which four guests at a time embark on a “winter quest to save the kingdom.”

“You literally don’t feel like you’re in Dave & Buster’s anymore. You are up in the air, riding a dragon,” said Ventura resident Ondrey Nebesky, who tried the attraction with wife Haruka Nebesky. The minute their first session was over, they got back in line to go again.

In addition to a TV-free dining area, a bar area with 24 HDTV screens overhead and the D&B Sports Bar with still more TVs, the new Dave & Buster’s includes a private event space that can be divided into two smaller rooms and a store-like area where patrons exchange tickets for prizes from poop-emoji pillows to Xbox games.

As of March 4, the business’ hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Weekly specials will include two-for-Tuesdays ($2 beers, $2 tacos and two free game plays, the latter with a $10 Power Card purchase), half-price games all day Wednesdays, and all-you-can-eat wings and unlimited video game play for $19.99 on Thursdays.

During happy hour (4-7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays) and late-night happy hour (10 p.m. to closing Sundays through Thursdays), specials include half-price cocktails, $2.50 domestic pints, $1 off 22-ounce drafts, $1 off glasses of wine and $3 off bottles of wine (145 W. Hillcrest Drive, Suite 130,

In Newbury Park, the owners of Great Harvest Bread Co. have announced plans to close on March 2. Signed by Jim and Lupe Costello, a post to the business’ website reads, “As most of you know, we have been trying to find new owners for our bakery for the past two-plus years. We have been unsuccessful in doing so. Our lease is up, and for many personal reasons, we have concluded that we are unable to commit to continuing on indefinitely.

“We are thankful to all of you for allowing us to be part of the community, part of your meals, part of your holidays and part of your lives for the past 15 years. We feel truly blessed for having had the privilege of serving our community throughout these years,” the Costellos wrote.

Call for updated hours (2092-H Newbury Road, 805-376-0111,

In Ojai, the combination British-goods store and tea shop Plaza Pantry closed Feb. 28, after nearly 37 years of business at 221 E. Matilija St. Owner Beryl Tognazzini, a native of Dover, England, who was a teacher before settling in the Ojai Valley, said she felt that, at 86, the time had come to retire.

“I nearly gave up last year, because of what they wanted in the way of permits,” said Tognazzini, who prepared English breakfasts and afternoon teas with little more than a grill and a microwave. Importing packaged foods had also become more complicated in recent years, she added.

“I will miss the companionship of the people who came by. I met so many fascinating and friendly people through the years,” said Tognazzini.

She and her hand-knitted tea cozies will be missed.

To the north, the long-awaited Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito is now officially open. Located on the grounds of the original Miramar Hotel, which closed in 2000 and passed through several hands before it was demolished in 2012, the luxury resort developed by Caruso features 161 guest rooms and suites — 26 of which have private terraces directly over the sand.

Executive chef Massimo Falsini oversees the resort’s seven restaurants and bars, including the oceanfront Caruso’s, the Miramar Beach Bar and Malibu Farm at Miramar, an outpost of Helene Henderson’s farm-to-table spot on the Malibu Pier (1759 S. Jameson Lane, 805-900-8388,

To the south, Calabrese Cafe, a restaurant from the brother-sister combo of chef Bobby Calabrese and fitness trainer Autumn Calabrese appears to have opened and closed late last year at 26787 Agoura Road, the former address of Industry Bar & Grill and Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co. at The Summit at Calabasasshopping center.

In a Dec. 12 response to a would-be patron’s query on Yelp, “Robert C. of Calabrese Cafe“ blamed the closure on “a catastrophic water main break late last night. … We have updated our status to ‘temporarily closed.’” The status now reads “scheduled to reopen on Feb. 1, 2020.” The owners have not responded to subsequent Yelp comments, or to comments on the business’ Instagram account, which was last updated on Dec. 9.

When I stopped to peer in the windows on Feb. 24, the restaurant was dark inside, with furnishings and menu boards still in place. As of this week, calls to its phone number are answered by a recording that states the mailbox is unable to accept messages because voicemail was never set up.

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