Amid nationwide restaurant reopenings, family-friendly arcade and pizza place Chuck E. Cheese is filing for bankruptcy protection.
Parent company CEC Entertainment Inc. filed for bankruptcy on Thursday after 43 years of business, it announced in a statement on Thursday. Though the chain had been struggling before COVID-19, prolonged closures as a result of the pandemic were the final straw.
Although CEC has reopened 266 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants as states began to ease coronavirus restrictions, it has become clear that families won’t be hosting their kids’ birthday parties there anytime soon. CEC will continue to offer carryout and reopen some of its 734 restaurants in 47 states and 16 countries while they negotiate their debts and leases.
“The Chapter 11 process will allow us to strengthen our financial structure as we recover from what has undoubtedly been the most challenging event in our company’s history,” CEO David McKillips said in a statement.
Chuck E. Cheese has been in operation since 1977, when Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell opened its first restaurant in San Jose, Calif. Chuck E. Cheese is known for its pizza, arcade games, cast of animatronic characters and popular slogan, “Where a kid can be a kid.”
In the midst of competitors like Dave and Buster’s and trampoline parks, Chuck E. Cheese began to revamp its restaurants after CEC was purchased by Apollo Global Management in 2014. This included updated video game technology as well as offering coffee, beer and wine to appeal more to parents.
In recent months, Chuck E. Cheese offered delivery on popular food apps under the alias “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings,” but since the restaurant made a name for itself from its dine-in experience, it wasn’t enough to stay afloat.