Dave & Buster's CEO: Skipped chicken wings special for NFL games hurt sales

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment failed to capitalize on the powerful combination of football fans and chicken wings, CEO Brian Jenkins said after the restaurant chain posted a same-store sales decline that sent shares plunging on Wednesday.

Same-store sales declined 1.3 percent in the third quarter, falling at a sharper rate than Wall Street had expected – a development Jenkins blamed in part on Dave & Buster’s decision to skip a chicken wing sales promotion tied to the NFL’s kickoff. Shares fell more than 7 percent on the weak results.

“For the football season, initially we did not put enough emphasis on sports viewing as we skipped the ‘All You Can Eat’ wings promotion that we ran last year during the first six weeks of the season,” Jenkins said during an earnings call. “This had an unfavorable impact on comps. To course correct towards the end of the quarter introduced a new and more compelling $19.99 unlimited wings promotion on game nights that also included unlimited video game play.”

The company’s stock fell despite topping Wall Street’s expectations for both quarterly earnings and revenue. Dave & Buster’s reported earnings per share of 30 cents and revenue of $282 million. The chain also raised its full-year revenue guidance.

Dave & Buster’s is in the midst of a turnaround effort. Jenkins highlighted several elements of the chain’s plan to boost sales, including a revamped menu, new gaming options and tech-enhanced restaurants.