Rick And Dave & Buster Are On The Same Beam

If you've read my Forbes article on the new paradigm in restaurants and retail, as exemplified by Dave & Buster's, you will find what's happening at Rick's Hospitality of interest.

The point of my Dave & Buster's article, as explained by Patrick Doyle of Domino's Pizza, is that if you are a restaurant or retailer looking to just serve good food or merchandise and prosper, you will probably be suffering in today's evolving environment, despite adequate offline consumer spending. "People still get out" as Doyle said. You have to also be serving up "experiential retail" as it is coming to be called. Rick's Hospitality, or Rick's Cabaret as it was called before their name change, is all about just that.

Rick's is a growing restaurant/entertainment chain where the entertainment is "the most beautiful women in the world featured daily". It's a little like Hooter's but there's more fun with the girls. The dancers pay a "facilities use" fee to entertain and collect tips. They can make as much as $1000 in tips for a night's shaking of the booty. But before you dismiss them as a sleazy massage parlor that has somehow wound up a public company, be aware that no less than Forbes has not only put them on their America's 200 Best Small Companies List (they installed them at # 94) but they've also been written up at The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Smart Money, and other places that don't normally cover massage parlors. They are simply some of the early settlers in the experiential retail frontier along with Domino's Pizza, Dave & Buster's and other's with the same idea - only their experience is a little more naughty.

And they combine naughtiness with alcohol, to make money, not trouble. In the tight margin world of competitive eateries, alcohol is everything. These beverages are market up more than anything on the menu. The study "Adding Value: Beverage Alcohol's contribution to Restaurant Sales Is Significant And Growing In Importance"  gives the numbers. Of the top 500 chains, only half deal with all the hassles of alcohol at all, and only eight are able to derive 30% or more of sales from it. Rick's is an elite player here with 40%. Alcohol at over 30% is sought after by everyone in the business.

This includes even the restaurant chain giant Darden. As I covered in my article, they are trying the new ideas too. I pointed out three comparables to Rick's:

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