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A ‘Capitol’ Idea - Docks Aims to be the Flagship of Downtown Entertainment

Take a shot of nostalgia, add a heaping helping of fun and top it off with some fine dining, and you have the recipe for Docks at the Capitol, Fayetteville’s newest, largest and most varied entertainment complex.

It is not a nightspot – there will be daytime hours, and the word spot does not begin to describe the expanse of this place – and it is not a club. Docks is a monstrous combination of games, food and private meeting/banquet space. There is virtually something for everyone.

Located on Hay Street in the old Capitol Department Store building, which is owned by Dr. Melvin Henderson, the complex is patterned after the Dave and Buster’s that are found all across the country. It is unique in that small children and adults of all ages can play games side by side.

“We are kid- and adult-friendly,” said Docks general manager Mike Axelrod. “There are all kinds of things that people of all ages can have a good time doing…and they can do them together.

“We are obviously very excited. Fort Bragg is a big reason this place was built, and we feel people will come from all over Fayetteville and from surrounding areas. We have so much to offer, with plenty of fun things to do and plenty of good food. Extensive marketing and feasibility studies have indicated it will be a big success. We anticipate around 180,000 guests per year.”

Henderson, a retired physician and a native of Fayetteville, has been involved in downtown revitalization since purchasing the Capitol building in 1995. He has sought to preserve the memory of one of the city’s old-time leading establishments while also brightening the city’s future.

“This is my home town,” Henderson said, “and I remember the old downtown Fayetteville. Seeing the Capitol building vacant, I had visions of what it could be, and it was a matter of trying to figure out what to do. It looked like the best way was to break it down into smaller parts. Then, it was a question of what kind of venue would complement the downtown development.

“Entertainment has been one of the mechanisms used to re-establish downtown areas. It seemed to be a good way to create after-five (o’clock) traffic, a way to attract people, a part of the formula to reenergize downtown. The downtown area is the government core, so it is bustling during the day. Docks will help bring folks here after regular business hours.

“The origin of the word Docks is to symbolize the history of Fayetteville,” Henderson said. “The Cross Creek and Campbellton communities congregating around the river, gathering at a boat dock…people coming from all over.

“The Capitol was always a cut above; shopping there was a special experience. The Capitol has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Part of what we are doing is preserving that name and what the Stein family did.

“We are seeking that kind of image,” Henderson said. “The Capitol was a flagship of Fayetteville businesses. We want Docks to be the flagship of entertainment here.”

Scheduled to open in November, Docks has about 38,000 square feet devoted to game areas, restaurants and rooms for meetings and other gatherings. The building offers an additional 12,000 square feet which includes retail space and upstairs offices that are for rent. About 135 employees will be hired. The entire construction project, which began in 2005, has cost about $7 million.

Entering from Hay Street, visitors are greeted by the little black Scottish terrier that was the Capitol’s icon. Known then as Scottie, the dog will be called Dock, and there is one on each of the front doors. Through the window on the left, onlookers can watch broadcasters from ESPN radio as they do live programming. In the right window are TV monitors showing various sporting events and some of the customers playing games inside Docks.

Inside, there will be specialty retail shops on the left. Another blast from the past can be found a little way down on the right. It is the little automated pony that small children used to ride for a quarter while their mothers shopped in the Capitol. Thanks to Henderson’s efforts to have it restored, another generation of kids can ride it.

Anyone entering Docks must be at least 16 years of age or be accompanied by someone 21 or older. Game cards may be purchased, with credits redeemed for individual games. Points earned for game performances can be traded for impressive prizes such as X boxes, golf clubs, microwave ovens and blenders.

There are approximately 85 games on the first floor, and in the middle of the gaming area is a simulated adventure ride. There are four bowling alleys. On the wall are three high-definition, big-screen TVs.

A restaurant seating 110 people offers a menu with entrees that include steaks, ribs, seafood and pasta, as well as sandwiches, salads, a long list of appetizers and tempting desserts. There is a kids’ menu, and weekday lunch specials are available. The restaurant, the Bird Cage Café, is named for the second-floor eatery in the old Capitol.

There are three downstairs banquet rooms that seat 30-40 people apiece. Upstairs, the Capitol Room has a capacity of 150-175. Each banquet room has 50-inch televisions which can be connected to computers for presentations. The whole building is equipped for internet access. The entire building is smoke-free.

The second-floor games are geared more toward adults. Derby Owners Club, which is simulated horse racing and is one of the most popular games in the United States, is a big attraction. There are also electronic darts, billiards and shuffleboard. Golfers can play famous courses like Pinehurst No. 2 on the golfing simulator. Tee times can even be reserved in advance.

Tables and chairs are provided for those who want to watch games being played. There is a small bar downstairs and a sports bar upstairs. There are three staircases and an elevator.

Docks will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. until midnight, Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. The Anderson Street parking lot behind the complex becomes a private lot for Docks after 5 p.m. every day.