New Dave & Buster's part of Westfield Hawthorn one-stop shop strategy

New businesses tout their bells and whistles, but at the new Dave & Buster's restaurant/arcade in Vernon Hills the pitch is literal.

Besides the thumping music, visitors are immersed in a swirling mix of sounds generated by more than 150 games and the play-by-play of whatever sports are broadcast on 17 screens over the circular bar.

The cheers of game players and sports fans and the chatter of diners at the 740 available seats add to the multifaceted atmosphere of entertainment the Dallas-based chain promotes for its new store at Westfield Hawthorn mall.

As the fourth Dave & Buster's in the Chicago area and the first in Lake County, the establishment's public opening at 11 a.m. Wednesday also has implications for Westfield and the village.

“This is the kickoff of the new Hawthorn,” Westfield Hawthorn general manager Michael Golden said Thursday during a Dave & Buster's preview tour. “Our goal is to be everybody's destination for restaurants, entertainment and retail.”

The 42,000-square-foot Dave & Buster's replaced seven mall spaces and has its own exterior entry. It is the most extensive example so far of an ongoing $50 million package of renovations and upgrades to repurpose the 1970s-era mall.

Completed or pending improvements include: a remake of all four mall entries; the addition of a 1,200-seat AMC theater and several new restaurants; the revitalization of the food court; and a new exterior sign system, including two electronic signs just under 40 feet in height.

About two years in process, this is the first Dave Buster's mall location in Illinois, according to General Manager Phil Shabat.

“We looked at locations around the mall and this is the one we liked best,” he said.

The Westfield Hawthorn facility is the company's 68th North American location. It also operates in Chicago, Addison and Orland Park.

The Vernon Hills site, which brings more than 260 new jobs, continues the chain's intensified focus on sports viewing, according to Shabat. Besides the big screens above the bar, there are nine more in a separate sports lounge nearby.

As in other locations, chef-made items such as fire-grilled salmon and one-of-a-kind drinks like the Original Snow Cone are available, with a variety of new offerings in the works.

Other features include the grand dining room, four private party rooms, the game bar and the sports lounge. Capacity for special events ranges from 30 to 120 people, and the entire venue can be rented for up to 1,500 people.

Dave's Arcade has 240 player positions at 150 games, including classics like Pac-Man and new games like Cut The Rope, a mobile app turned 42-inch touch-screen game.

Winners can cash in at the Winner's Circle, a room that offers prizes from replica football helmets to stuffed animals to Xboxes and iPads.

The entertainment theme is an important component of the mall makeover.

“We want it to be more of a one-stop shop,” said Jeffrey A. Rutzen, marketing director at Westfield Hawthorn. “The retail is very important, but we want to give shoppers other options — a place to eat, a place to play.”

The village has a big stake in what happens at Hawthorn, as it has an agreement with the company that could provide nearly $13 million in sales-tax rebates.

“We're looking forward to it and believe it will have a positive impact both on the mall and the village as a whole,” Village Manager John Kalmar said.

“It's that whole experience they're trying to create at the mall.”

Westfield plans to be discussed

Hawthorn mall improvements OK'd in Vernon Hills

Maggiano’s headed to Hawthorn

Work to transform Westfield Hawthorn well under way

  Employees go through training in preparation for the public opening Wednesday of the Dave & Buster's at Westfield Hawthorn mall in Vernon Hills. Steve Lundy/
  The Dave & Buster's restaurant/arcade chain will open its fourth Chicago-area location on Wednesday at Westfield Hawthorn mall in Vernon Hills. Steve Lundy/ slundy@
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