Sad new for animatronic rodents everywhere today, as Variety reports that Chuck E. Cheese—truly, the Dave And Buster’s of restaurant arcades for children—has filed for bankruptcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the company continues to operate several hundred restaurants in a carryout capacity during the quarantine—using the name “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings,” for reasons we can only assume are at least semi-based in shame— those plans have presumably been stymied by the fact that Chuck E. Cheese pizza is not, in fact, very good, and mostly exists to get your fingers greasy so you can put some proper English on a Skeeball.
But the complete (and here-for-at-least-the-near-future) death of the children’s birthday party industry has not dampened spirits at the company, which would like to assure you that filing for Chapter 11 is just the first glorious step on the road to Chapter 12. “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,” the company’s CEO claimed today, issuing a statement that’s much more amusing to contemplate if you imagine it coming out of the flapping mouth of a dead-eyed robot mouse.
Facing competition from both D&B’s and, to quote Variety, “trampoline parks,” Chuck E. Cheese has done some aggressive rebranding in recent years. The company claimed it was phasing out its animatronic musicians, Munch’s Make Believe Band, a few years back; also, they started selling both booze and coffee, presumably because directly shilling Red Bull and vodka to parents trying to survive an afternoon pizza party with 40 grease-slicked caffeine junkies was considered a little too on the nose.