Dave & Buster’s coming to Milford

MILFORD >> As malls attempt to stay relevant amid a rapidly changing retail sector, Dave & Buster’s restaurant is headed to Milford with plans for a spring 2018 opening at the Connecticut Post Mall.

With one state location in Manchester among more than 100 in the U.S. and Canada, the Milford restaurant would be the chain’s first in southwestern Connecticut. The closest locations are in Pelham Manor, New York, and the Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York.

Founded in 1982, Dave & Buster’s includes a restaurant along with arcade games and screens for watching sports — as the company calls it, “Eat Drink Play Watch.”

The Milford restaurant will be 35,000 square feet and employ about 200 people.

Kelly Frantz, the Milford mall’s marketing director, said Dave & Buster’s represents a change for the shopping center.

“We’re excited to add a whole new element to the mall in terms of entertainment,” she said. “People want to harp on stores closing, but malls are changing. We have to be able to meet consumers’ needs.”

Gymboree recently announced it is closing its store in the Milford mall, one of nine in the state and 350 nationwide that will shut following the company’s bankruptcy filing earlier this year.

Also, J.C. Penney, one of the mall’s anchors, earlier this year announced it will close July 31, resulting in 89 lost jobs.

Frantz said the J.C. Penney space would offer an opportunity for the mall to adapt. “Malls that are staying relevant are providing a better consumer experience and better services,” she said.

Julie Nash, the city’s director of economic and community development, said the addition of Dave & Buster’s is emblematic of an overall shift in malls and retail in general.

“We see a lot of interesting ways that malls are taking advantage of the space they have, providing things that people want to do along with things they want to buy,” she said. “People are excited about it.”

She said the new addition would help not only local stores but other restaurants, as well. “It’s a huge draw for them,” she said.

In April, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced plans for a Dave & Buster’s in that city’s Seaview Plaza development. The city did not immediately respond when asked whether that plan remains in effect.

Contact: hbailey@ctpost.com; 203-842-2546