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Dave & Buster’s makes play with Main Event acquisition

Illustration collage of a Tetris piece falling into a pattern of money-textured blocks

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Dave & Buster’s move to acquire Main Event, a family entertainment company, signals a new target customer for the dinner and games venue.

Why it matters: The combination, announced this morning, would bolster Dave & Buster’s footprint of 145 venues in North America and its ability to stretch from its young adult focus to catering to more families with kids.

Context: Dallas-based Main Event operates 50 locations across the U.S. with family fun options that include bowling, laser tag, arcades and virtual reality games.

  • The deal highlights quite a comeback for the younger consumer dining and entertainment space, which was hammered by the pandemic.
  • The pandemic forced Dave & Buster's competitor Chuck E. Cheese into layoffs and bankruptcy.

Details: The all-cash transaction has an enterprise value of $835 million.

  • Both companies will continue to operate independently.
  • The deal is expected to close later this year, subject to regulatory review and approval by shareholders of Ardent Leisure — which owns a stake in Main Event and is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange.
  • Private equity firm RedBird also owns a stake in Main Event.

Of note: Upon the close, Main Event CEO Chris Morris will become CEO of Dave & Buster’s.

  • Kevin Sheehan, Dave & Buster's interim CEO since October, will return to his role as the company's chairman.
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