Chuck E Cheese could go bankrupt, so here are some of the consequences if that happens.
Chuck E Cheese could become the latest high-profile name in business to go bankrupt in 2020.
People Magazine, quoting the Wall Street Journal, reported that the parent company, CEC Entertainment, has nearly $1 billion in debt, partially because all of its 610 stores had to be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Takeout, 17,000 employees were laid off due to the shutdowns.
Chuck E Cheese has always had pizza, of course – it’s part of the appeal of the place, at least in theory. In practice, if their menu had anything else to offer, customers would likely order that instead. So in May they resorted to disguise in order to drum up some trickle of revenue, posing as “Pasqualle’s Pizza” on food delivery apps.
What would a closure of Chuck E Cheese mean?
To begin with, one less competitor for chains like Dave and Buster’s or Incredible Pizza, though the target audience for both of those is higher. (Their is also much higher; with Dave and Buster’s wings and plant-based burgers, while Incredible Pizza offers topping options like Buffalo chicken, for example.)
It would also be another blow to the icons of the Gen X retail space over the past decade, following in the footsteps of Borders, Toys R Us and Radio Shack.
Chuck E Cheese began in Silicon Valley in 1977, which is fitting as its founder was video game pioneer and Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. The arcade games were always the highlight of the appeal for generations of kids over the next several decades.
While arcades aren’t that common nowadays (the novelty of the idea of one still operating was part of the appeal of the Wreck-It Ralph movies), there’s something comforting about the shared experience of video game consumption, similar to how movie theaters are a special communal experience much different from watching Hulu on the living room couch.
A closure of Chuck E Cheese would mean childless aunts and uncles would be deprived of a resource for entertaining young visiting relatives, and the same thing for grandparents on babysitting duty.
It would take away most kids’ first exposure to the games of skeeball and air hockey, which is a disheartening thought.
The kid-friendly atmosphere of Chuck E Cheese allowed kids to take their first tentative independent steps, as picking out what video games you want to play is part of the appeal, and it provided an introduction to wisely budgeting resources that would be gone as well.
The exorbitant ticket-rewards system also provided a valuable lesson in the less-than-subtle style of Saturday morning cartoons: “Life isn’t fair, just accept that and do the best you can with the resources you have.”
Yeah, Chuck E Cheese is kind of an anachronism in 2020, but it would still be sad to see it disappear.