Chuck E. Cheese Is $1 Billion in Debt and Might Have to Close for Good

We're not ready to say goodbye to Chuck E.!

In this slowly reopening world, social distancing will shape the way we live life. We’re all thinking about whether we’re ready to eat at restaurants again, how many people we’re comfortable with having over, if it’s possible to stay six feet apart at the beach, and on and on.

This change poses a problem for businesses that thrived on packing attendees in enclosed spaces (like movie theaters) or having multiple customers play the same games (like arcades). Chuck E. Cheese, unfortunately, falls into both categories. Because of COVID-related complications, it might have to close the doors at its 610 locations for good.

Is Chuck E. Cheese Closing?

Right now, nothing’s set in stone. Chuck E. Cheese hasn’t filed for bankruptcy.

The chain even came up with some creative ways to stave off bankruptcy—it operated under the name Pasqually’s Wings and Pizza on apps like Grubhub and DoorDash in order to keep some cash flowing in. Unfortunately, it might not have been enough, and we might lose this staple of American childhood.

Why Is Chuck E. Cheese in Trouble?

The potential closure isn’t just because of the pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chuck E. Cheese is $1 billion in debt, and it laid off 65% of support staff and nonessential workers when the big shutdowns occurred.

But in a time when people are leery of public spaces, and large gatherings are almost entirely canceled, it’s not hard to fathom why a place like Chuck E. Cheese—a big arcade where it’d be pretty hard to socially distance—is struggling. Nonetheless, it’s sad that Chuck E. Cheese, like Pier 1 and JCPenney, could be another business lost to the pandemic.

If Chuck E. Cheese does close, we’ll always remember eating pizza, playing Skee-Ball and collecting tickets!

Emily Hannemann
Emily adores both food and writing, so combining those passions as a writer for Taste of Home makes perfect sense. Her work has also appeared in Birds & Blooms and on TV Insider. When she’s not eating peanut butter straight from the jar, you'll find her running or birdwatching. Emily is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Missouri.