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Dave & Buster's is coming to The Gateway, part of the Salt Lake City shopping center's effort to revitalize itself as an entertainment district.

The Dallas-based restaurant chain emphasizes playing games and watching live sports, and it serves what it calls "Fun American New Gourmet" entrees with alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages.

The Gateway will be Dave & Buster's first location in Utah. In May, the restaurant received a liquor license that will allow it to serve beer, wine and spirits if it meets state and city licensing requirements before opening.

The "family-friendly" chain has 98 other restaurants across North America, including outlets in 34 U.S. states.

"This is a huge win for us," said Edie Trott, marketing director for The Gateway and its parent company, Phoenix-based Vestar, which is investing $100 million in the west-side mall. It opened in November 2001.

"Dave & Buster's is the perfect one-of-a-kind dining and entertainment experience we think people can get excited about," she added.

Dave & Buster's will occupy a second-story space that formerly housed Gateway's food court, Trott said, plus some additional space to the south. She expects the restaurant to open early next year.

"We take a great deal of care with how we grow our business. Coming into the Salt Lake market appealed to us for a number of reasons," said John Mulleady, Dave & Buster's senior vice president of development.

"With something to offer everyone — at any age — we think this brings something special to the community," he said.

The chain started in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Dallas in 1982, with James "Buster" Corley bringing experience from the restaurant business while David Corriveau provided the know-how from running a game-and-entertainment center.

Vestar has paired with Dave & Buster's three times in Arizona, said Jenny Cushing, the mall owner's vice president of leasing, citing locations in Tempe Marketplace, Desert Ridge Marketplace and Westgate Entertainment District.

"They're synonymous with the kind of entertainment we're dedicated to bringing to The Gateway," Cushing said, adding that more announcements of changes at The Gateway will be made soon.

The Gateway opened shortly before Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, an urban renewal project that upgraded a dilapidated railroad district on downtown's west side.

It thrived until The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened City Creek Center mall in 2012, leading to falling occupancy and less foot traffic at The Gateway.

Since Vestar took over, the mall has received a new paint job, the Salt Lake County-owned Discovery Gateway children's museum has added new exhibits and overtures have been made to numerous civic groups to congregate there.

The Salt Lake Tribune is a tenant of The Gateway.

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