Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 17th 2013 Contents Kristine Thompson, director, Yay! Entertainment
Ltd, is hoping a $40 million investment in three
Chuck E Cheese s restaurant and entertainment
centres in T&T will raise the level of family
entertainment and customer service to the
"It is an extremely strong brand in the United States. The
research shows that Chuck E Cheese s itself is a character---a
mouse---which is more recognised that Mickey Mouse and
McDonald s, so it has strong brand awareness. It is like a Disney
World in T&T. We intend to invest $40 million in three branches,"
she told the Business Guardian on Monday at the newspaper s
offices on St Vincent Street in Port-of-Spain.
Thompson said Yay! Entertainment holds the development
rights to the brand in T&T.
Chuck E Cheese s is a US-based quick-service restaurant
and family entertainment chain with more than 560 locations
She said what differentiates this brand from
quick service restaurants in T&T is
that Chuck E Cheese s
"It is not just a quick-service or food service restaurant. It
is family entertainment. The store is about 13,000 square feet
and half the space of the store is dedicated to quick service
restaurant and the other half is entertainment. So there are
about 68 game boxes in the store that is organised by age groups.
The food is really a little bit of a by-product in the sense that
children really go there to play games and have fun," she said.
Joanna Rostant, another director at Yay! Entertainment, said
customers will buy a package where they get a meal and coins
for children to play games.
"They can play video games until they get sick because there
is that entertainment. Each child leaves with some kind of prize.
Also, they would have eaten and everybody leaves happy."
Thompson added: "It really is more of an entertainment
experience than going to buy food. The slogan is where a kid
can be a kid. So children can run around, spill their Coke, get
their fingers greasy. It is designed to be a fun environment."
Filling a void in family fun
She said of the establishment: "First of all, I think there is
a void in the market for entertainment options for families.
Apart from MovieTowne and taking them to the beach, there
is very little for them to do. So there is a huge pent-up demand
for family-friendly entertainment. I think people will spend
money to see their children happy. In terms of Chaguanas,
there is absolutely nothing apart from MovieTowne and
people are looking for things to do."
She thinks the investment would create jobs and spur
"I think the economy is stabilising. I think in the next
few years, there would be recovery. But I do not think
we need that for the business to be successful. It will
be an added stimulus for the recovery. We are confident
in T&T as an investment location," Thompson said.
She said Chuck E Cheese s has survived boom and
bust cycles in the US.
"What they found in the US is that it is a proven business
format throughout difficult economic times. If a country hits
hard times, what their research found is that mothers would
rather eat our equivalent to Crix and cheese and put a smile
on their child s face than go to a fancy restaurant," Thompson
She said the first restaurant is supposed to be opened near
to the Brentwood housing development in Chaguanas in July
"We will be opening three restaurants over the next three
years. The first one will be next year, the second restaurant will
be in 2015 in San Fernando, and the third one will be in 2016
in either the East/West Corridor or Port-of-Spain."
There are no plans to take the brand to Tobago.
"Tobago does not have the critical mass. It is a large investment.
Each store is about US$2 million and you must have 30,000
to 40,000 children in close proximity to the restaurant to make
it worth the while," Thompson said.
Thompson said the first family entertainment centre will be
financed 50/50 by debt and equity.
"The banks have been supportive of the concept because it
is unique and does not compete head on with other establish-
ments," she said.
Stores two and three would be financed by a combination
of operating cash flow, debt and equity.
Thompson and Rostant are going into business for themselves
after years of working for others. Thompson worked at Guardian
Holdings Ltd, now called the Guardian Group, as vice president
of strategy and business development for eight years. After
GHL, Thompson spent five years working on the Carisal project
to construct a plant to produce calcium chloride, caustic soda
and other related products for the domestic market as well as
markets in the Caribbean, North America, West Africa and
Rostant, who currently works as a consultant, spent years
working as a manager at British Gas.
Asked how it felt setting out as an entrepreneur, Thompson
said: "It is exciting and yet challenging at the same time, as
a significant part of my net worth is being put at risk. But I
am bullish on the concept. This development gives me the
opportunity to control my own destiny."
She said her experience with the approvals so far has been
smooth, but added that "construction in T&T takes longer than
elsewhere, so patience and perseverance are critical."
Raising the bar on customer service
Rostant said there are Chuck E Cheese restaurants in Latin
America, but this will be the first in the English-speaking
"There are those restaurants in Guatemala, Panama, Chile
and Peru and Puerto Rico. When we called them in the US and
asked for a franchise, our timing was just right," she said.
Thompson said the prices of services at the restaurant will
be in the same vicinity as similar-sized restaurants in T&T.
"Our strategy is to make it consistent with the other enter-
tainment options on the island. Like what it will cost a family
of four to go to MovieTowne, it will not cost more than this,"
Thompson said because other quick service restaurants just
serve food and maybe limited entertainment, Chuck E Cheese s
will actually take market share from other businesses. "Chuck
E Cheese s main food offering is Pizza. Pizza Hut and Mario s
are the main competitors. Some of them are just play parks
with a few tubes. But with Chuck E Cheese s, it is 70 games,
lights, music and arcades."
Thompson said they hope to raise the level of customer
service in the country.
"Customer service in T&T is lacking and we will be training.
We will have 60 employees per store, with about 20 per shift.
There are some notable exceptions in customer service, like the
Hyatt Regency hotel here in T&T and Trotters are pretty good."
BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 2013 • WEEK THREE
Chuck E Cheese's
is coming to town
Chuck E Cheese's (formerly Chuck E Cheese's Pizza
Time Theatre and Chuck E Cheese's Pizza), is a chain of
American family entertainment centres. Chuck E Cheese's
is the main brand of CEC Entertainment, Inc, with its
headquarters in Irving, Texas.
The concept is a sit-down pizza restaurant, comple-
mented by arcade games, amusement rides, an anima-
tronic show, and other diversions, such as climbing
equipment, tubes, and slides, all mainly directed at chil-
Chuck E Cheese's celebrated its 30th anniversary in
2007 and has 560 entertainment centres globally.
Joanna Rostant, left, Kristine Thompson, directors of Yay! Entertainment Ltd. PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT
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