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Dave & Buster’s to test fast-casual platform

‘T&T Tacos’ test will debut in fourth quarter

After 36 years as a big-box casual-dining and gaming destination, Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc. by the end of the year will test its first fast-casual foodservice offering – a street-tacos-oriented concept called “T&T Tacos,” executives said Friday.

“We are on track to test our first fast-casual offering,” said Brian Jenkins, Dave & Buster’s CEO, in a second-quarter earnings call Friday with analysts.

The first unit of the fast-casual concept, which has so far been named T&T Tacos, will open by the end of year with a menu based on street tacos typically sold from a food truck, Jenkins said. It will open in a converted special-event/functions room at a Dave & Buster’s restaurant in its headquarters city of Dallas.

“We know that there is at least some portion of our guests that don’t want the casual-dining experience,” he said. “They don’t want to take the time. They want to play their games and don’t want that time commitment.” 

The menu will be based essentially on a food truck taco offering, he said, and it will be located next to the arcade.

“Our research shows that what resonates, particularly with Millennials, are street tacos,” Jenkins noted. “We are going to test a twisted-and-traditional food truck fast-casual concept.”

The goal of the fast-casual foodservice test would be to increase penetration, he said, adding that the company will evaluate the performance and then make the decision to roll it out.”

The company has also been reducing the size of its casual-dining menu, Jenkins said.

“We’re working hard to simplify the menu,” Jenkins said. “We cut about 20 percent off earlier in the year.” The streamlining process is continuing, he added, and the brand rolled out all-natural chicken and will be upgrading steaks later in the year.

“Speed of service is definitely a focus for us,” he said. “We have some fairly complex dishes.”

In the second quarter, which ended Aug. 5, Dave & Buster’s also debuted its first virtual-reality games, tying the new attraction into the summer release of the movie “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” Some Dave & Buster’s locations have two of the new “Jurassic World VR Expedition” games, and they are proprietary to the brand, he said.

For the quarter ended Aug. 5, Dave & Buster’s net income rose 11.3 percent to $33.8 million, or 84 cents a share, from $30.4 million, or 71 cents a share, in the prior-year period.

Revenues grew 13.7 percent, to $319.2 million, from $280.8 million in same quarter last year.  Food and beverage revenues rose 9.7 percent to $130.2 million from $118.7 million in the prior year.

Same-store sales in the quarter declined 2.4 percent.

Dave & Buster’s, founded in 1982, owns and operates 117 venues in North America. The company has locations in 38 states as well as Canada and Puerto Rico.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Correction: December 12, 2018
This story and headline have been edited to correct the spelling of T&T Tacos.
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