Bad news bears. Or in this case: Bad news mouse. The beloved kids’ restaurant and birthday party venue Chuck E. Cheese may be closing their locations for good due to financial issues, the Wall Street Journal reports. The thought of future generations not being able to enjoy live music sets performed by animatronic animals (while scarfing down pizza!) is just a blow to any American’s childhood. The Irving, Texas-based company is currently in talks with lenders to potentially strike a deal to avoid bankruptcy. They also seek interest-payment relief. According to WSJ, the Chuck E. Cheese parent company, CEC Entertainment, is already nearly $1 billion in debt and has made $100 million in interest payments so far. “The discussions are taking place as a decision looms over whether to make a $1.9 million quarterly payment on loans due at the end of June,” WSJ reported. This decision comes after the chain has approached lenders in the past few weeks to spark interest in “providing a $200 million loan to finance a stay in bankruptcy.” Unfortunately, most restaurants have seen a dramatic hit in sales since the coronavirus pandemic emerged. WSJ reported that “sales at full-service restaurants sank 80% at pandemic’s peak.” And a study by Azurite Consulting shared that 24% of Americans won’t go to sit-down restaurants again until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.
Before the pandemic, Chuck E. Cheese was actually thriving throughout their 610 locations in 47 states. The WSJ reported a 2.7% increase in sales in 2019 after several down years. When coronavirus emerged, Chuck E. Cheese venues closed down, but most of their locations offered delivery and takeout options for food and party packs. Only 86 suspended food operations as of May 11. While plenty of restaurants are starting to reopen, many local standards have banned the use of games and restaurant arcades. And what would a Chuck E. Cheese look like without rows and rows of all-you-can-play skeeball, whack-a-mole, and prizes? We surely hope Chuck E. Cheese can pull through. Otherwise, this will be a huge loss for both kids and nostalgic parents alike. Main photo credit: Flickr user Willis Lam: https://flic.kr/p/nvepehView this post on Instagram