A Chipotle boom is taking place in the 42Freeway area, with another one proposed for Blackwood-Clementon Road, at the site of the former Denny's Restaurant. The Denny's building would be demolished to make way for a new building, which will have space for a future second retail client.
Back around May, in one of my posts on Round 1 or Dave and Busters, my attention was drawn to a reader’s comments which seemed to indicate they were someone closer to the entertainment/restaurant industry than just the casual local reader. A quick Google search of that reader’s name and I realized that Ed Forler, Vice President of Operations for Dave and Buster’s… was a 42Freeway reader and chiming in on one of my posts.
We exchanged a few chat messages about the Dave and Buster’s location going in at the Gloucester Township Outlets, and I also realized that Mr. Forler has a strong Delaware Valley connection! While he spends most of his time in the Miami area, he spends his summers at the New Jersey shore!
Ed has a high-ranking and very public role. A quick Google search of Mr Forler, has him in Dave and Buster’s news stories from around the country… from new store openings in Oklahoma City, to stepping in and being the voice of Dave and Buster’s on the very rare times when an issue arises.
We talked about doing an interview… via telephone, or I was even willing to drive to him. But instead I fired off an email with questions, which has turned into a short but interesting 20 questions style interview.
I hope to catch up with Ed soon in a one-on-one conversation. But of course, now that I’ve let the area know who he is and his role… the other area media outlets will be jumping in to talk to him.
Background on Dave and Buster’s Gloucester Township
Oh, and to fill in the background on this story; Dave and Buster’s is building a new free-standing venue in the property adjacent to Simon’s Gloucester Premium Outlets, which has been open about 4 years. About two miles away is Macerich’s Deptford Mall which has been open since the mid-70s, and Japan based Round 1 is moving into one level of the recently closed Sears building. It’s a rare “shoot-out” opportunity as it seems both venues, just two miles apart… could open within months of each other.
Note: I recently posted that Round 1 in Deptford would open a year later in 2021 based on the Round 1 quarterly reports.. but Deptford Township officials tell me they believe Round 1 will open in Spring 2020. The construction activity at the mall does indicate they are moving fast. I still stand by my 2021 date as that is the official date from Round 1 Senior Management.
Oh and before you start counting, it’s really not 20 questions. 🙂
What is your role at Dave and Busters?
I am Vice President of Operations.
How long have you been there?
Going on 23 years.
Is it a classic “climbed through the ranks” story?
Started in the Philadelphia location and climbed the ladder.
What area of the country do you live in?
Cape May during the Summer, South Florida the rest of year.
The new Gloucester Outlets location is the newer modernized and patterned store… and our area is mostly used to the massive and unique Philadelphia (Delaware Ave) location which was developed to fully utilize the pier. How will the experience in Gloucester Outlets be different and better?
The Gloucester Twp location is designed to maximize the space and give the guest a wow experience without overwhelming them.
Still looking at an April 2020 opening?
I think we are shooting for March 2020.
Anything else to add distinctive about the Gloucester Outlet store or the Simon Outlets it’s associated with?
This will be our Fourth store in NJ. Looking forward to being a great partner (with Simon).
Former New Jersey Governor Christie change state laws to allow the development of Dave and Busters style venues in the state. Did you play a consultative part in that process?
No the current GM in Philly went to hearings. We applied, but it was driven more by the towns in New Jersey.
It’s been reported that the “flagship” Philadelphia location’s property/pier was sold to a residential developer. Can you confirm the status of the Delaware Ave Dave and Busters?
We are tenants of the new developer, and working with them looking for long term solution.
Opening a new location in Gloucester Township… how does that decision start? Relationship with Simon?
It’s more complex with us identifying sites, then working thru approval process. It can take years sometimes.
Were you looking to expand in Southern New Jersey?
We like the whole state of New Jersey.
Does the South Jersey marketplace demographics shine through strong when researching?
Yes, they meet our criteria for a great site.
Does the Philadelphia location status play into the NJ move?
Not at all.
Did you consider any other locations in South Jersey? Media reports (and significant rumors) stated you were coming to the Deptford Mall. If so, what happened with those plans?
You will need to ask the Mall. We wanted to open in this market and Gloucester Twp met the needs first.
The new Dave and Busters will be less than two miles from the Round One at the Deptford Mall. Do you compete with Round One in other areas, with such close proximity?
We are the top of this category. They chase us, but we need to be the best in product and service. They are more arcade… we are a sports bar, restaurant, midway and special events. Very hard to duplicate.
How do you think your two business models differ? Age groups, attractions (bowling). Free standing vs Mall?
We attract all types, from family, sports, corporate, social. When opening a store like this parking is a key factor.
Other thoughts on the Gloucester Township Dave and Busters, the Entertainment Restaurant industry in general?
Looking forward to opening.
I understand you have a South Jersey connection. You live in the beautiful Miami area but have a vacation home at a South Jersey Beach. What’s the connection?!
Born in Philly. I still own season tickets to the Eagles. I have around 50 cousins, aunts and uncles in area. My youngest twins were baptized in the Church in Cape May that my Grandfather took us to.
Dave & Buster’s Inc.
Vice President Operations & FUN!