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The rise and fall of Chuck E. Cheese, who has just filed for bankruptcy

June 26, 2020

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This story originally appeared on Business Insider

The rise and fall of Chuck E. Cheese, who has just filed for bankruptcyThe rise and fall of Chuck E. Cheese, who has just filed for bankruptcy

Chuck E. Cheese has been through a lot in the past 43 years.

The mouse, whose full name is Charles Entertainment Cheese, was originally developed by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell to serve as a mascot for the Pizza Time Theater in the 1970s. Since then, the chain that bore the name of the mascot has been restructured and sold several times to keep up with the trends.

In April, Casey Sullivan and Alex Morrell of Business Insider reported that the parent company, CEC Entertainment, was suffering from high levels of debt. According to the people familiar with the situation, the lenders had turned to the restructuring of lawyers. And on Thursday, the entertainment company’s parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after weeks of speculation about the chain’s impending demise in the U.S.

Change is nothing new to Chuck E. Cheese. Read on to see how the chain developed as Chuck E. Cheese transformed from an animatronic rat from New Jersey into a rock star mouse that performed live shows on YouTube.

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell founded the Pizza Time Theater in 1977

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell founded the Pizza Time Theater in 1977.

Picture: Fast company

The star of the restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese, a cigar-smoking rat with a jersey accent.

The star of the restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese, a cigar-smoking rat with a jersey accent.

Picture: Fast company

“I always felt that something was missing in restaurants,” said Bushnell Fast company. “I wanted to add a funny dimension to the act of eating.”

Picture: Fast company

Chuck E. Cheese originally made aggressive and sometimes sexual jokes aimed at adult customers. But the chain went relatively quickly to a more child-friendly approach in the early years.

Chuck E. Cheese originally made aggressive and sometimes sexual jokes aimed at adult customers. In the early years, however, the chain changed relatively quickly to a more child-friendly approach.

The pizza chain went public in the 1980s, followed by various restructuring efforts as sales fell. Until 1992, all locations of the pizza chain that had emerged from the concept of the Pizza Time Theater were renamed Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Chuck E. Cheese continued to develop and grow, reaching 300 locations in 2000.

The pizza chain went public in the 1980s, followed by various restructuring efforts as sales collapsed. Until 1992, all locations in the pizza chain that had emerged from the Pizza Time Theater concept were renamed Chuck E. Cheese's.

Picture: Show Biz Pizza

The chain was famous for its arcade games, winning brands and pizza, as well as the performances of an animatronic Chuck E. Cheese.

Chuck E. Cheese has grown and grown, reaching 300 locations in 2000.

In 2012, however, Chuck E. Cheese struggled to grow sales. After Chuck E. Cheese was portrayed as a rat for decades, the company turned the pet into a “rock star” mouse.

According to the company, the full name of the mouse is Charles Entertainment Cheese, an orphan who celebrates the birthdays of others to compensate for his sad childhood.

According to the company, the full name of the mouse is Charles Entertainment Cheese, an orphan who celebrates the birthdays of others to compensate for his own sad childhood.

Picture: Insider

The makeover couldn’t attract customers, and Chuck E. Cheese Entertainment was acquired by private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2014 for nearly $ 1 billion.

The makeover brought no customers, and Chuck E. Cheese Entertainment was acquired by the private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2014 for nearly $ 1 billion.

Picture: The Wall Street Journal

A lot has changed at Chuck E. Cheese in recent years. The chain withdrew its tokens in 2016 and animatronics in 2017. The brand also changed its name slightly and dropped the English possessive to become Chuck E. Cheese in 2017.

A lot has changed at Chuck E. Cheese in recent years. The chain discontinued its tokens in 2016 and animatronics in 2017. The chain also changed its name slightly and dropped the possessive to become Chuck E. Cheese in 2017.

Image: Business insider

Since 2017, the chain has been working on renovating locations with new designs, dynamic prices and better birthday packages.

Since 2017, the chain has been working on redesigning locations with new designs, dynamic prices and better birthday packages.

In April 2019, CEC Entertainment announced that the company would return to the New York Stock Exchange through a merger. But the deal fell apart.

In April 2019, CEC Entertainment announced that the company would return to the New York Stock Exchange through a merger. But the deal fell apart.

Picture: Business Insider

The coronavirus pandemic hit the chain hard, with sales down 21 percent in the first quarter. Chuck E. Cheese tried to keep the fans busy with home deliveries and “live performances” of the mascot.

Business Insider’s Casey Sullivan and Alex Morrell reported this week that the chain has already cut hours, suspended most of its hourly staff and around 65 percent of the support center’s staff, and postponed rent payments. in the premises operated by the company. According to three people familiar with the matter, CEC Entertainment is struggling with large debts, and lenders have organized and exploited lawyer restructuring.

According to three people familiar with the matter, CEC Entertainment is struggling with a high debt burden and lenders have organized and tapped restructuring lawyers.

Several representatives were unavailable or declined to comment on the Sullivan and Morrell reports.