Chuck E. Cheese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after much speculation over the children’s dinnertainment chain’s looming demise

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In the last three years, Chuck E. Cheese has gone through several unsuccessful IPO attempts and has tried to modernise its image by overhauling its restaurants’ aesthetic. Mark Sullivan/WireImage
  • CEC Entertainment, the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday.
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s finances have been in freefall since the start of the pandemic, with mounting debt and thrice-downgraded credit scores.
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s brand of dinnertainment is one of many dine-in concepts that have been decimated by the pandemic, which created a restaurant landscape conducive to takeout-based businesses.
  • However, CEC Entertainment plans to continue reopening Chuck E. Cheese locations as it navigates bankruptcy.
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On Thursday, CEC Entertainment, the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The bankruptcy of the children’s dinnertainment company comes just weeks after it doled out pre-bankruptcy bonuses to executives. Its credit rating and income have been in freefall since the coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns began.

In the last three years, Chuck E. Cheese has gone through several unsuccessful IPO attempts and has tried to modernise its image by overhauling its restaurants’ aesthetic, only to be hit with sweeping pandemic-related shutdowns in March. And in April, the company, facing mounting debt, started restructuring in an attempt to mitigate some of its spiraling losses. Then, in May, it came to light that Chuck E. Cheese had started selling pizza on Grubhub under the moniker “Pasqually’s Pizza,” drawing ire and ridicule from social media users.

A Chuck E. Cheese spokesperson had told Business Insider that Pasqually’s Pizza was a separate, delivery-only brand that sold slightly more upscale pizzas made with different ingredients than Chuck E. Cheese’s pizzas.

Unfortunately, that delivery-oriented Hail Mary came too late for CEC Entertainment. With one in five restaurants set to close due to the pandemic, Charles Entertainment Cheese and his animatronic friends had the cards stacked against them from the beginning. Dinnertainment, a once-burgeoning genre of restaurant, is simply one of many dine-in concepts that are ill-prepared to survive the takeout-oriented restaurant landscape carved by the pandemic.

However, bankruptcy doesn’t mean that Chuck E. Cheese restaurants will close in the near future. CEC Entertainment plans to continue reopening restaurants through its bankruptcy as it negotiates with landlords and stakeholders.