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Listen, I hope I’m wrong about this. But in the wake of a ton of store closures, restaurant closures, and even gym closures, this coronavirus world has been pretty cruel to long-established chains.
Longtime birthday party hub Chuck E. Cheese had to close their 610 locations for more than two months. And now they’ve filed for bankruptcy.
Although locations are reopening across the U.S., there are a number of reasons to believe the animatronics will be unplugged for good soon.
1. Chuck E. Cheese has filed for bankruptcy.
The company has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of amassing more than $1 billion of debt.
Chuck E. Cheese tried unsuccessfully to raise $200 million from lenders in recent weeks. Now they’re trying to restructure their finances by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The filing doesn’t directly affect the 186 franchise-owned Chuck E. Cheese locations.
2. They’ve hidden behind an alias to sell their food.
Without food sales, even a fully functioning Chuck E. Cheese would be underwater financially. Food sales are a big part of the revenue, and for more than a decade now, those sales have been slipping.
Chuck E. Cheese basically admitted that their food isn’t a draw for people when, during the coronavirus shutdowns, they were caught masquerading on GrubHub as Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings, which was a bit of a PR nightmare.
3. Chuck E. Cheese announced 34 permanent closures so far.
As part of the bankruptcy filing, Chuck E. Cheese announced plans to permanently close 34 locations that were open when coronavirus first hit.
The closures are happening in:
- California (Ladera Heights, San Bernardino, El Monte, Long Beach & Diamond Bar)
- Colorado (Grand Junction & Fort Collins)
- Florida (Green Acres, Miami Gardens, North Lauderdale & Miami)
- Georgia (Macon)
- Illinois (Chicago-Matteson & Vernon Hills)
- Iowa (Sioux City)
- Maryland (Gaithersburg)
- Massachusetts (Springfield, Natick, Leominster & Danvers)
- Michigan (Muskegon)
- Minnesota (Rochester)
- Missouri (Columbia)
- Nebraska (Lincoln)
- Nevada (Las Vegas-McCarran & Las Vegas-Sahara)
- New Mexico (Alb-Juan Tabo)
- New York (New Hartford & Harlem)
- North Carolina (Jacksonville)
- Ohio (Columbus-Macsway, Mansfield & Lima)
- Oklahoma (Oklahoma City-Del City, Oklahoma City-Westgate & Moore)
- Pennsylvania (Johnstown & Lancaster)
- South Carolina (Charleston)
- South Dakota (Rapid City)
- Texas (Allen & Mesquite)
- Utah (Layton)
- Virginia (Fredericksburg)
- Wisconsin (Appleton)
4. Coronavirus will make things a lot more difficult and expensive for the company.
Chuck E. Cheese has reopened in various locations, and guests have found a bunch of new health and safety measures — important changes that will change the overall experience and cost the company to implement (without guarantees that crowds will return).
Those changes include:
- Temperature checks for all guests at the entrance
- Hand sanitizing for all guests upon entry
- Photo check-ins will replace hand stamps
- Stores will be cleaned every half-hour
- No more costumed Chuck E. Cheese walking around
- Every arcade game must have only one player at a time, and will be spaced at least 6 feet from other games
- Birthday parties will be by reservation only, during non-business hours
- Seating areas will allow for social distancing
- Chuck E. Cheese will prepackage salads (no salad bar anymore)
- Game prizes will be prepackaged
5. About half of Chuck E. Cheese locations remain closed.
Although Chuck E. Cheese has begun the reopening process, 289 of the chain’s 555 restaurants remain closed due to coronavirus. The bankruptcy protections will help Chuck E. Cheese reorganize financially, but without being able to operate at full strength, some of those locations will probably never reopen.
6. The hashtag #WhatsNextForChuckECheese was recently trending.
As of Tuesday, June 16, Twitter revealed a public expectation of the restaurant’s demise — as well as some good memes. (RIP Geoffrey.)
7. Chuck E. Cheese gift cards are going for cheap on Raise.
As stores start to show signs of trouble, we’ve seen gift cards flood the resale market.
Right now, Raise has Chuck E. Cheese gift cards for more than 21% off the value of the card. Use them for games or food and drink — but use them quickly.
8. Chuck E. Cheese is trying to find a buyer.
The Wall Street Journal reported that while CEC Entertainment has had some interest from potential buyers, nobody’s moved yet. A buyout would help keep the company out of bankruptcy. But CEC Entertainment entertained buyout offers more than a year ago, and ultimately, nothing came of it.