In mid-October, the brand expanded hours of operations, introduced its first late-night menu, and debuted exclusive activations to expand into uncharted daypart territory.
Beddoe says this stemmed from consumers preferring experiences over “stuff.” It was giving guests a late-night experience that was safe and fun, and under control. That included everything from a silent disco to Jumbo Wings.
The brand started staying open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Nobody’s doing that,” Beddoe says. “What we’re able to do is kind of bring a new attraction to a new audience at a new daypart. That just really energizes and transitions our experience from the day to the night, which is fun.”
Toward the end of summer, Main Event exclusively debuted Beat Saber, a virtual reality game, systemwide during Labor Day weekend. The brand labeled it “Saber Day Weekend” and offered free plays to customers who signed up for its email program. Additionally, Main Event released a Beast Saber ICEE” flavor. It brought the brand’s VR platform to three titles with HOLOGATE and Virtual Rabbids: The Bid Ride. VR is something Dave & Buster’s garnered a lot of press for over the past two years, and it remains a traffic driver, Beddoe says, since it provides something beyond the couch-gaming options for most people.
Main Event has also stayed ahead of the convenience curve and multi-occasion setup. One issue that some eatertainment brands face is trying to cross the amusement and F&B gap. Are families willing to invest the time it takes for a sit-down meal and then go hit the arcade? How can you make sure children stop and eat when the VR is flashing in the background?
At Dave & Buster’s, for example, the chain’s walk-in comp sales fell 2 percent in Q2. F&B was down 3.2 percent. It’s tested a fast-casual tacos spot in Dallas as well as creating “wow walls”—nearly 50-foot-wide LED TV screens—to drive F&B attachment.
For Main Event, there are counter-service elements in all 43 centers where guests can grab a quick bite, from chicken tenders to pizza. That complements full-service dining rooms that tout a chef-inspired menu highlighting New American cuisine, like grilled sirloin steak, teriyaki salmon, and a strawberry fields salad.