Chuck E. Cheese is at risk of shuttering its doors for good.
CEC Entertainment, the parent company of millennials’ go-to birthday party spot, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after being forced to close more than 600 locations due to COVID-19, according to CNBC. Though some Chuck E. Cheese locations have begun to re-open, it was not before CEC saw a 21.9% decline in earnings in the first quarter of 2020.
The company will use bankruptcy to restructure its balance sheet and renegotiate with creditors, including landlords and lenders, with the hope to re-open all of its locations. Of course, with cases of coronavirus spiking across the country, there’s no guarantee of that happening anytime soon.
Even if Chuck E. Cheese does manage to survive, don’t expect to see a return of Munch’s Make Believe Band. The restaurant chain’s signature animatronic house band was disbanded in 2017 after CEC concluded that “children’s taste in entertainment is much more sophisticated now than when the chain started in 1977.” CEC CEO Tom Leverton explained at the time, “The animatronics bands may be an icon for parents and grandparents, but children today prefer dancing with Chuck E. — a worker dressed up as the chain’s icon — or big-form video games. The animatronics became a side show,” he said. Since then, some of Chuck E. Cheese’s old animatronics have sporadically come up for sale.