Say cheese! Another US fast food chain heads our way
Chuck E. Cheese is the latest in a long line of American fast-food chains with eyes set on Australia, but has a twist which could fill a gap in the local market.
Chuck E. Cheese is looking to make its mark on Australia. Photo: TND
Founded in the late 1970s by Nolan Bushnell – co-founder of then video game market leader Atari – Chuck E. Cheese restaurants serve pizza alongside arcade games and electronic experiences.
With hundreds of franchise locations across America, the Middle East and Europe, the company has signed a master franchise partnership agreement with the WA-based Royale Hospitality Group.
The number of franchises set to open, and their locations, are yet to be announced.
“We are thrilled to bring the magic of Chuck E. Cheese to Australia and to collaborate with the Royale Hospitality Group, a partner that shares our commitment to delivering exceptional family experiences,” Chuck E. Cheese International COO Mario Centola said.
But The Retail Solution founder Roger Simpson said the play options on offer by Chuck E. Cheese set it apart from the rest of the imports in recent years.
Unlike the recent barrage of burger joints, Chuck E. Cheese might have more going for it than its menu. Photo: Chuck E. Cheese
Despite current cost-of-living pressures, Australians are still eating out.
As of November, sales from cafes, restaurants and takeaway rose by 4.3 per cent compared to the same period the previous year, according to Australian Retailers Association analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
Simpson said with many families likely under pressure to work more to make ends meet, there is strong demand for easy meals through food delivery apps or fast food.
Chuck E Cheese is more of a dine-in experience, but its arcade offerings could help take some pressure off parents to provide entertainment with meals.
Play cafes across Australian cities and towns may offer this concept to a certain extent, but Chuck E Cheese has the resources to deploy it at a much larger scale.
With the ability to afford outings getting more rare, fast food is one of the only accessible “luxuries” many Australians are still able to afford despite any unhealthiness, Simpson said.
“We may not go to the movies or we may not be able to go out to a restaurant anymore because it’s becoming expensive, but these places, because they’re fast food, obviously will be cheaper,” he said.
“So I think there’s probably a slice of that market that they’ve actually researched and gone, ‘look, there’s an opportunity here.’”