Pandemic takes a bite, Chuck E. Cheese files for bankruptcy

FILE - This Jan. 16, 2014 file photo shows paintings hanging on a wall at Chuck E. Cheese's in Dallas. Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria, that Mecca of fun for children but the bane of many parents, is filing for bankruptcy protection. CEC Entertainment Inc. said Thursday, Jan. 25, 2020, it was filing for voluntary protection under Chapter 11 “in order to overcome the financial strain resulting from prolonged, COVID-19 related venue closures.”

Chuck E. Cheese — where kids could be kids while parents nursed headaches — is filing for bankruptcy protection.

The 43-year-old chain, which drew kids with pizza, video games and a singing mouse mascot, was struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic. But it said the prolonged closure of many outlets due to coronavirus restrictions led to Thursday’s Chapter 11 filing.

CEC Entertainment Inc. has reopened 266 of its 555 company-operated Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants as restrictions ease. The Irving, Texas-based company said it will continue to reopen locations and offer carryout and delivery while it negotiates with debt and lease holders.

CEC and its franchisees operate 734 restaurants in 47 states and 16 countries. Franchised locations aren’t included in the bankruptcy filing, the company said.

CEC listed nearly $2 billion in debt and $1.7 billion in assets in its bankruptcy petition.