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Dave & Buster’s looks to unit and menu upgrades as sales continue to fall

The eatertainment chain reported a same-store sales drop of 4.1% for Q3.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sales remain a challenge for Dave & Buster’s, and the eatertainment chain is hoping store remodels and menu upgrades will provide a much-needed business boost.

The Dallas-based chain reported a same-store sales decline of 4.1% for the quarter ended Nov. 3. Revenues increased 6.1% to $299.4 million as the chain went from 118 to 134 units year over year.

Company executives blamed the poor performance on softer amusement sales and increased competition from other entertainment-food hybrid concepts.

For the quarter, Dave & Buster’s same-store food sales fell 4.9%, beverage sales decreased 3.6% and amusement revenue dropped 3.9%.

The chain’s first priority in its turnaround plan is refurbishing existing stores, CEO Brian Jenkins said during a conference call with investors. Nearly 50 stores have been outfitted with 43-foot, LED-enabled “wow walls” to show sporting events and other entertainment.

The chain is testing “live activities” around big events, such as professional and college football games, to drive traffic, Jenkins said.

“Wow Wall screens give us the capability to become the premier sports-viewing destination in these markets, and provide a tremendous opportunity to increase guest frequency and food and beverage attachment over time,” he said, according to a transcript on financial services site Sentieo. “We are seeing improvement in some of these stores already and know there is more opportunity ahead.”

On the menu front, Dave & Buster’s is testing a snack menu on the arcade floor in select markets, with five menu items, beer and a signature cocktail available for purchase via a food cart.

In its dining rooms, the company is experimenting with a pared-down, 30-item menu that includes more shareable offerings.

“Currently, our dining rooms are the least-visited space in our four walls,” Jenkins said. “And, what we’re seeking to do is bring in a new asset into that area, bring energy to that space.”

Dave & Buster’s launched a mobile app in October, which has resulted in about 600,000 sign-ups, he said. The chain is using that data to send targeted advertising to its customers.

“We have seen higher per-cap spend by the guests that download the app,” he said. “We have seen better frequency.”

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