James ‘Buster’ Corley, co-founder of Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s, dead at 72

Corley died Monday, Jan. 3, at his home near White Rock Lake.

DALLAS — James “Buster” Corley, one of the co-founders of the successful “eatertainment” company Dave & Buster’s, has died at 72. 

Corley died Monday, Jan. 3, at his home near White Rock Lake. 

The cause is unknown, but the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed his death. 

In a statement confirming his death, Dave & Buster’s said Corley was an “innovative and creative force.” 

“His pioneering spirit and steadfast belief that ‘everybody is somebody’ set the foundation for bringing food and games to millions of Dave & Buster’s guests over the past 40 years,” said a company spokesperson. “Buster’s passion for hospitality, his demand for excellence, and the deep care he had for his team members were unparalleled. Our hearts go out to his family at this difficult time and while we will miss his wise counsel and his easy laugh, the legacy he and Dave built endures.”

Corley and business partner David Corriveau opened the first Dave & Buster’s in Dallas in 1982.

Corley had opened a restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the late 1970s, while Corriveau had opened a place for entertainment and games just a few doors down. According to Dave & Buster’s website, the two noticed people often rotated between their establishments and decided to join in a new venture that combined restaurant and entertainment. 

They found an empty, 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Dallas located along the two-mile area along I-35E around Walnut Hill known as “Restaurant Row” to try their idea out. They named it Dave & Buster’s — and not Buster & Dave’s — because Corriveau won a coin toss to have his name come first.

Since its founding, the company has opened more than 140 locations across the country. 

In 2022, Restaurant Business reported on the company’s $835 million deal to acquire food-and-game chain Main Event, which is also based in Dallas.

While Dave & Buster’s is geared toward young adults, Main Event is more geared toward families and young children. 

Corriveau died in 2015 at the age of 63. 

Police are investigating Corley’s cause of death. 

No other details were released. 

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