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It appears that Chuck E. Cheese’s plan to secretly sell pizza under another name was a flop. Now, the family entertainment center is approaching bankruptcy and might have to shutter all its locations.
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been kind to the popular kid’s restaurant. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, is almost $1 billion in debt and is now attempting to ask lenders for a $200 million loan to keep the business open.
CEC recently announced that it's planning to present its top executives with retention bonuses as a way to entice them to stay on. The brand said it would pay almost $3 million total to three executives, including $1.3 million to CEO David McKillips.
Based in Texas, Chuck E. Cheese has 610 locations across 47 states. It had to close its restaurants when the pandemic hit, laying off around 17,000 employees in March. In April, CEC announced that it was taking a look at refinancing, bankruptcy, and restructuring following the global health crisis.
The chain tried to make more money during the pandemic by selling pizza under the name Pasqually's Pizza & Wings on delivery apps like GrubHub, a reference to a musician who plays in Chuck E. Cheese’s band. Chuck E. Cheese employees helped manage the takeout brand. In May, a CEC Entertainment Inc. rep offered a statement on Pasqually's Pizza & Wings, saying “CEC Entertainment, Inc. recently launched Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings nationwide. The inspiration was rooted in the desire to create a premium pizza while staying true to the CEC brand.”
Last year, Chuck E. Cheese came under fire for rumors that it was selling leftover pizza, largely because many of the pies being sold were misshapen. A CEC rep categorically denied the allegations.