To help inject fresh sales into the 38 year-old restaurant and entertainment chain, Chuck E. Cheese's is attempting to change the way a generation of Millennials, who grew up going to the chain for birthday parties, think about it.
"We fully understand that some people think we'd gotten a little stale," said CEO Tom Leverton during a phone interview with CNBC. Its parent company, CEC Entertainment, is majority owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management's investment funds.
Known for its dancing mechanic animal characters called animatronics, the chain has struggled in the past. The restaurant delivered a 1.4 percent decline in same store sales during fiscal year 2014, after reporting meager growth the year before, and declines in 2012 and 2011.
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Chuck E. Cheese's transformation strategy hinges on a new menu, more cleanliness and hospitality training — and new entertainment with music videos from artists like Taylor Swift. In the process, the chain hopes to sway the most important influencer of all, moms and dads.
"We need to get them to stop vetoing the trip," says Gregory Casale, its head chef.
To cater to adult tastes, Casale has added a new thinner pizza crust with flavors like BBQ chicken and Cali Alfredo and whole wheat wraps. He's considering modernizing the salad bar with items like edamame, hummus and feta.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth market, it's also testing specialty coffee, craft beer and sports on TV in addition to a "parent zone."
Leverton also plans to incorporate parents more into the experience—something millennial parents increasingly want—through games both generations can play.
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"They want to be part of the experience. In the past, you might have been able to cater to children and have mom and dad sit and read a book," he said.