While bridging that amusement and F&B divide, at least to a comp-raising level, will take time (it’s unlikely the roles of amusements and F&B will ever come close to flipping, and Dave & Buster’s doesn’t expect or court that) the chain did see some positive impact from simplification efforts, Jenkins said.
The chain’s guest poll scores for speed of service in the dining room and bar improved over the prior-year period. Food quality scores ticked up. The company also added fresh juices and purées systemwide to enhance its cocktail program, and standardized core recipes and preparation techniques to improve consistency.
How wide is the gap exactly? This past quarter, amusements grew 11.9 percent (in overall sales) and F&B increased 6.1 percent as Dave & Buster’s continues to expand unit count. “Amusements and other” represented 59.2 percent of the chain’s total revenues, an increase of 130 basis points, year-over-year.
But if you break apart the comp figure, walk-in sales fell 0.6 percent. Amusements lifted 1.8 percent. Meanwhile, food fell 2.8 percent and bar declined 0.4 percent. This was much starker than Q4, when amusements upped 4.4 percent and F&B rose 1.1 percent, comprised of 1.3 percent growth on the food side and 0.9 percent in the bar category, respectively.
Dave & Buster’s narrowed the gap last quarter thanks to an All You Can Eat Wings promotion that drove a favorable impact.
This time around, roughly $1 amusement pricing in half of Dave & Buster’s stores sagged traffic, along with a more-muted impact from the wings initiative.
Short-term headwinds and levers will always push the balance one way or the other for Dave & Buster’s. The broader conversation, however, is a larger target.
Jenkins said the brand plans to feature food more prominently in marketing campaigns moving forward.