Chuck E. Cheese files for bankruptcy, closes 3 Ohio locations

The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy “in order to overcome the financial strain resulting from prolonged COVID-19 related venue closures” and to restore the kids-entertainment-and-pizza chain to a position of long-term success, according to a release from CEC Entertainment, Inc.

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"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 and get back to the business of delivering memories, entertainment, and pizzas for another 40 years and beyond," said David McKillips, CEO of Chuck E Cheese’s parent company, wrote in a release.

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Two local Chuck E. Cheese venues are open and  operating. The Dayton-area Chuck E. Cheese location at 30 Prestige Plaza Drive near the Ohio 725/Ohio 741 intersection in Miamisburg reopened about two weeks ago, and the Springfield-area Chuck E. Cheese at 2345 Valley Loop Road reopened a week ago, on June 22, according to employees at both locations.

Both the Dayton and Springfield Chuck E. Cheese entertainment venues have been around for more than three decades. Prior to 1990, both were Showbiz Pizza Place locations before that company merged with Chuck E. Cheese's parent company and were converted to Chuck E. Cheese locations.

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Those two locations are among 266 company-operated Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurant and arcade venues that CEC Entertainment said it had “safely re-opened, in accordance with all CDC, federal, state and local guidelines,” according to a release. “Subject to ongoing negotiations with its landlords, the company expects to maintain ongoing operations in these locations throughout the Chapter 11 process, providing dine-in, delivery and carry-out services, hosting birthday parties during dedicated hours, and supporting fundraisers and events in the coming weeks and months. The company also plans to continue opening additional locations each week, steadily bringing more employees back to work.”

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But not all Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Ohio will reopen. According to court documents from the U.S. Bankruptcy court in southern Texas, Chuck E. Cheese is stepping away from the leases of 34 “under-performing” locations nationwide, including one in Lima, Ohio, as well as locations in Mansfield and one southeast of Columbus. Another 11 locations nationwide that shut down prior to coronavirus-related forced shutdowns will not be reopened, company officials said.

The Lima location had been open since 2009.

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As of March 2020, CEC Entertainment and its franchisees operated a system of 612 Chuck E. Cheese and 122 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 47 states and 16 foreign countries and territories. Franchise-owned locations are not affected by the bankruptcy reorganization filing.

"I am incredibly proud of what the CEC team has achieved over the past year as we launched the All You Can Play value gaming platform, expanded our remodel program and found new ways to engage with families while our venues were closed,” CEC’s McKillips said. “I'm confident in the strength of our team and our world-class brands and look forward to more fully implementing our strategic plan as we put these financial challenges behind us."

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