CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

Chuck E. Cheese Enters Walmart Aisles as Restaurants Broaden Scope

Chuck E. Cheese is the latest restaurant brand to make a play for consumers’ grocery spending as, across the industry, eateries look to capture more of consumers’ day-to-day food budgets.

The family restaurant and entertainment chain, which has more than 550 locations, announced Thursday (Sept. 28) the expansion of its licensed frozen pizza to Walmart locations across the United States, in partnership with consumer packaged goods (CPG) company Flatlander Foods.

“Inspired by our famous pizza and created to be enjoyed at home, we’ve seen great response/demand from American families, and we are excited to see expanded distribution to even more neighborhoods with a Walmart near them,” Melissa McLeanas, vice president of global licensing, media and branded entertainment development for the chain’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, said in a statement.

The company is using its grocery placement not only to create additional revenue but also to drive visits to its restaurant/entertainment locations, offering free digital tickets redeemable for prizes at these stores’ gift shops.

The news of this expansion comes as restaurants look to extend their brands beyond the four walls of their stores and even beyond digital ordering occasions, targeting not consumers’ restaurant spending but their overall eating budget. In this effort, more brands are entering the grocery store and creating other non-restaurant occasions.

Last week, for instance, Asian-style casual dining chain P.F. Chang’s announced a grocery partnership with Fresh Del Monte’s cut vegetable subsidiary Mann Packing Co. to launch two salad kits based on the restaurant’s menu.

Over the summer, fast-casual giant Panera Bread, similar to Chuck E. Cheese, leveraged its grocery business to drive restaurant sales, offering restaurant credit to customers who spent $20 or more on the brand’s CPG products at retailers.

These moves come as consumers seek to meet more of their day-to-day food needs at the grocery store. PYMNTS Intelligence from the study “Connected Dining: Ready-to-Eat Meals Are Eating Restaurants’ Lunch,” which drew from a survey of more than 2,300 U.S. consumers, revealed that 37% had bought ready-to-eat meals at the grocery store in the previous month.

Plus, as restaurants look to gain a foothold in grocery stores, grocery stores are conversely aiming to gain share from restaurants. Grocery giant Kroger, for its part, has become the nation’s top sushi seller, with consumers buying more than 40 million pieces from the grocery chain per year.

“The grocery store is trying to be the one-stop shop,” Geoff Alexander, president and CEO of restaurant chain Wow Bao, told PYMNTS in an interview in August. “Whether it’s for ready-to-eat meals, food for another night, or the typical grocery shop, they’re trying to entice the consumer to use the grocery store in many different ways.”

Yet restaurants’ efforts to extend their reach are not limited to grocery stores. Fast-casual chain DIG, for instance, announced in July the launch of direct-to-consumer (D2C) meal boxes, available online. Last year, smoothie chain Smoothie King debuted its “Nourish Daily” subscription program, enabling customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to order custom ingredient boxes for them to blend the smoothie at home.

Across all these initiatives, restaurants are increasingly becoming not just places from which consumers can order cooked meals but also all-around food destinations.