Bold, kaleidoscopic colors, blinking lights, ringing bells and the sharp smell of pepperoni.
The first few steps into a Chuck E. Cheese's location can feel like a sensory overload to parents. But that's about the change.
After nearly two decades, CEC Entertainment, the parent company of the pizza chain, is redesigning the whole experience.
"In the last few years, we've invested a lot in our food, in our cleanliness, we've updated games, you name it we've touched it and changed it," CEO Tom Leverton told CNBC.
The renovation brings in more muted colors, sleeker furniture and brighter lighting in an attempt to improve the experience for adults. The hope is that Chuck E. Cheese's new spaces and revamped menu will be more inviting.
The new look will be fully rolled out in seven locations, four in San Antonio and three in Kansas City. Leverton said other restaurants will incorporate elements of this new blueprint, but will not be completely renovated, at least not right away.
He told CNBC the company wants to learn from the seven revamped locations before rolling out the new design system-wide.
Fresh and clean
Chuck E. Cheese's exterior is also getting a facelift, ditching the purple-and-red awnings and checkerboard paneling as well as the iconic logo of its mouse mascot Chuck E.
The new design features softer colors, more refined signage and an updated logo. Leverton called the new green entrance a "beacon" for customers. The side of the building has wooden paneling with round cutouts that are meant to be reminiscent of pepperoni or the holes in cheese, the company said.
Warm and muted
Inside, CEC Entertainment has removed the teal and red booths and tables from the dining room and incorporated more muted tones into the furniture and decor.
"We wanted to use warm woods, neutral tones and really for moms and dads create an environment that competes with other restaurant choices that they have during the week," Leverton said.
About 15 percent of the company's sales come from birthday celebrations, Leverton said. So the company has wanted to design a space that would better lure in parents when they decide to eat out.
He said that rivals for the brand were chains like Chick-fil-A, Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ: CAKE) and Olive Garden (NYSE: DRI).
Peek inside the kitchen
Chuck E. Cheese's new kitchen area is designed to be open. The company wants kids and adults to be able to peer inside and get a look at the pizza getting made.
Leverton said it was important to show parents that the food was made in-house. Not to mention, he said that kids love to catch a glimpse of the cooks putting together their pies.
"An open kitchen conveys good food credibility," he said.
The company has invested in improving its menu, particularly when it comes to its older customers. Leverton said kids are perfectly content with pizza and nuggets, but Chuck E. Cheese's needed to provide its adult guests with better choices.
The restaurant has added BBQ chicken pizza, Cali Alfredo pizza, and fresh wraps and sandwiches so that "parents don't have to sacrifice."
Modern dance floor
Say goodbye to Chuck E. Cheese's animatronic stage show. In these new locations, the company has removed the robotic band and installed a centralized dance floor.
This is the new destination for mascot Chuck E. to make his live appearance every hour.
"As we've updated our music in store. Now we have a lot of contemporary music, you'll see kids go out there and dance and treat it like a play area," Leverton said.
In addition, the company has updated its gaming system with "Play Passes," eliminating the need for tokens. Parents load money onto the cards and kids swipe to play games. Not to worry, Leverton said, the chain isn't getting rid of its tickets.
"Tickets are an essential part of the Chuck E. Cheese's experience," he said. "For kids, there's a lot of excitement when those tickets come out of the machine."
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