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Dave & Buster’s co-founder James ‘Buster’ Coley dead in apparent suicide

The co-founder of the popular arcade restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s has died in an apparent suicide, according to local reports and a company statement.

James “Buster” Coley, 72, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Dallas Monday, local ABC affiliate WFAA reported.

Dallas police found Coley after he allegedly shot himself in his home near White Rock Lake and he was rushed to an area hospital, where he died, police told the station.

Both Coley’s family and Dave & Buster’s confirmed his death.

His daughter told the local station that her father hadn’t been the same after suffering a stroke recently.

“Buster Coley had a stroke four months ago that caused severe damage to the communication and personality part of his brain,” Kate Corley said in a statement to the station. “The family asks for privacy during this time.”

Coley founded the successful chain with partner David “Dave” Corriveau after the two teamed up to open the first location in Dallas in 1982.

Dave & Buster’s and Coley’s family confirmed the devastating news of his death.
AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for the company, which the business partners sold years ago, remembered Coley for “his easy laugh” and “deep care” for those who worked for him.

“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,” the Dave & Buster’s representative said in a statement to WFAA. “Buster’s passion for hospitality, his demand for excellence, and the deep care he had for his team members were unparalleled.”

Coley and Corriveau had owned and operated businesses — Coley, a restaurant, and Corriveau, an arcade — doors down from each other in the late 1970s. They noticed they often shared customers looking to make a day of dining out and playing games and came up with the idea to create one establishment with both attractions.

In December 1982, they joined together and did just that — opening the first Dave & Buster’s in Dallas’ “Restaurant Row.”

Founders of Dave & Buster's — Dave Corriveau (left) and Buster Corley — pose together in a photo.
Founders of Dave & Buster’s — Dave Corriveau (left) and Buster Coley — pose together in a photo.
FilmMagic

The business partners famously flipped a coin to decide whose name would go first, with Corriveau winning the coin toss, according to the company history.

The company has since opened more than 140 locations across the country.

“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,” Dave & Buster’s spokesperson said.

Coley outlived Corriveau, who died at age 63 in 2015.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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