Dave & Buster’s has hinted at comprehensive changes over the past year. Among those is a fresh look and approach nurtured for 18 months through internal research into how customers want to access the category pioneer. The results will unfold across a broad remodel initiative that divides into three buckets—”light-touch,” “base,” and “potential upside” boxes. But the most vivid display yet is set to arrive on February 9 in Dave & Buster’s home base of Dallas, Texas, via a completely reimagined store at 9450 North Central Expressway.
First launched in Friendswood, Texas, last year, the “Store of the Future” format is scheduled to roll out to select Dave & Buster’s locations across the country in 2024.
Included in the updates of the Dallas opening is something Dave & Buster’s is calling “The Arena.” It’s an area, the company said, created specifically for the brand that will offer “revolutionary gameplay technology identified by Dave & Buster’s.”
Customers will have multiple ways to connect and compete with wall-to-wall gaming. To start, the brand will charge $5 for the experience, which boasts a fully transparent exterior. Up to eight players can participate and the unit features “intuitive and invisible tracking technologies,” the company added, “along with fully immersive media, audio, and tactile solutions to deliver futuristic gaming experiences that tests players both mentally and physically.”
Another element of the Dallas restaurant will be “Interactive Social Bays.” Based in engagement, “Social Darts Bays” and “Social Shuffleboard Bays” offer private, reservable spaces in suites for two to six players.
Next is “Immersive Watch,” a new experience that includes added screens, surround sound, and a 40-foot viewing option. TVs will surround the bar and a VIP Watch Room presents a “bottle service” vibe, the company said.
Dave & Buster’s added a self-serve beer wall to the design as well. Located in the “TapZone,” which is in the midway, customers can pour their own local craft beer from more than 20 specialty options on tap.
“We can’t wait to reveal this Dave & Buster’s as a Dallas entertainment destination during the big game weekend,” GM Garrett Chimarys said in a statement. “We’re thrilled for our neighbors to experience this incredible transformation for themselves. Join us for epic watch parties on our giant 40-foot WOW Wall and state-of-the-art activities with the immersive gaming environment The Arena and all-new Social Dart Bays & Social Shuffleboard Bays. Guests are going to have to see it to truly understand Dave & Buster’s Dallas is like nothing they’ve ever seen.” The first 200 people in line for the February 9 opening will receive free games for a year.
Building on management comments of late, too, the store showcases an evolved menu with a particular focus on shareable options. Dave & Buster’s worked in recent months to remove complexity in the kitchen and boost speed and execution.
In the past, 57 percent of guests ordered food and drinks at the brand. But coming into Dave & Buster’s summer investor call, it was 39 percent. The company tapped a hew head of F&B and turned focus toward simplification in the back of house, upgraded menu design, evaluation of fresh products, optimized pricing, and easier ordering systems. Dave & Buster’s also examined how the menu was arranged to enhance price-value proposition, whether it could introduce more bundles, how it advertised sides, and whether the chain’s alcohol program was as defined as it could be.
That was Phase 1. The second stage revolved around execution by removing unnecessary complexity and boosting speed of service to improve food quality and throughput at peak. That lunched systemwide on September 25.
In the next five weeks, Dave & Buster’s Phase 2 menu drove a roughly 5 percent increase in F&B revenue per check, a nearly 100-basis-point improvement in COGs, and improved speed of service and quality of the guest experience.
Alongside the go-live of Phase 2, the brand began piloting Phase 2 of the D&B Menu of The Future in 10 stores. If all goes accordingly, CEO Chris Morris said earlier, it should spread across the fleet this April.
Phase 3 is designed with the objective to further increase F&B sales through targeted culinary innovation of apps, bowls, desserts, and sides that align with the company’s updated hospitality model “and better meets the need states of our entertainment-oriented guests,” Morris said.
The first Friendswood remodel drove double-digit sales uplift compared to the prior year and a more than 30 percent rise versus 2019. F&B mix was up nearly a full percentage point (reconfigured dining room), special event sales 45 percent, and net promoter scores 15 percent. Loyalty member also increased at a faster rate than the rest of the system and, thanks to a digital guest engagement platform, the store has collected “important guest data on thousands of guests,” Morris said.
Dave & Buster’s reported Q3 revenue of $467 million and adjusted EBITDA of $82 million for a margin of 17.5 percent, or 350 basis points better than the same period in 2019. Same-store sales declined 7.8 percent as Dave & Buster’s lapped a Q2 2022 comp that was 17.5 percent over 2019. Measured to that same pre-COVID view, Q3 same-store sales were 8.1 higher.