Saturday, June 17, 2017

We Walk into a Game Bar for a Big Game

happy hour at Dave and Buster's, Fresno
Dave and Buster's, Fresno, California
"Green Ghost" sounds more like a Scooby Doo villain than a beverage, but it was the drink I ordered at Dave and Buster’s. The menu says it’s a blend of apple whisky, green apple vodka, Granny Smith apple syrup, sweet ‘n’ sour, and Sprite -- which leaves out the key component that makes the drink special. It has a light-up “ice cube” that changes colors, which is what makes the drink “ghoulish” (as the menu describes it). You can also order drinks with sea monsters.

Obviously, this is not a bar for “serious” drinkers.

If you haven’t been to a Dave and Buster’s (a national chain -- international really, with Canadian locations), it is primarily a game arcade. Most of the floor space is taken up with video games, skee ball and one of the most awesome games I have ever seen, a full size Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

It also is a restaurant. This location has a couple of dining sections, and then there’s the GameBar. We waited a few minutes before space at the bar opened, and we took it. It was still happy hour so our drinks, including Mindy’s Chocolatini, were half price.

Many times when we’ve talked with people about what makes for a good bar, we hear, “It depends what you’re looking for, sometimes you’re looking for a party and sometimes you want to chill.”

Usually when we look for a bar, we’re looking for a place where we can talk to people. So it can’t be empty, but ideally it isn’t too crowded. If there’s a loud, party atmosphere, it’s difficult to talk to people.

This month, we’re using the bar visits as opportunities to watch the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. We knew there would be at least four games (and only four games in the case of a sweep), so we knew we could visit enough sports bars to cover our posts for the month. And the GameBar at Dave and Buster’s seemed like a sports bar to us.

Even before we entered the place, we could hear the play by play for the third game of the NBA Finals on the outside speakers. Most of the dozens of screens inside were playing the game. (I saw a lonely screen playing the Giants game. It changed to basketball when the baseball game was done.)

The noise from the arcade games keep Dave and Buster’s GameBar from being an ideal place for quiet conversation. But the Game made it impossible. The volume for the broadcast was loud, and people were cheering loudly as well. When the Cavaliers were ahead, the minority of Cleveland fans cheered lustily at every move Sir James made. When the Warriors pulled ahead, they quieted down.

As the fourth quarter began, Cleveland was leading, and I was beginning to think we wouldn’t need to go to our third bar for the week. (We went out for the first game on a Thursday, the second on Sunday, and this was Wednesday night.) If the Cavs won, it wouldn’t be necessary to go to a bar on Friday night, because there would be a game five the next week. Our bar visit could wait.

But Curry, Durant, Thompson, and the rest of the Dubs had other plans for our weekend, coming back for an exciting win. It was great to be with a big crowd sharing the anxiety and the excitement. The majority cheered wildly at the conclusion as the the Warriors overcame double digit deficits to win by five.

We usually ask people at a bar, “What makes for a good bar?” and “Whether you go or not, what makes for a good church?” We didn’t ask anyone our questions on Wednesday night because most people were too into the game or wouldn’t have been able to hear us anyway. And our servers, Bryan and Red, were much too busy for conversation. (But they did provide cheerful and competent service.)

Most people answer that church question by saying they like to go to a place where they’ll be welcomed and accepted, but occasionally people say they like going to a big place where they can be anonymous and just enjoy the music and teaching and celebration. Sometimes it’s nice to celebrate anonymously in a bar as well.

For video of the Green Goblin (and the end of the game), check out Mindy's instagram.

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