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

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HICKSVILLE, NEW YORK – JUNE 25: A shuttered Chuck E. Cheese establishment sits dormant on June 25, 2020 in Hicksville, New York. Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic closed most of its family-friendly eateries. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(AP) – Chuck E. Cheese 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 venues due to virus restrictions led to Thursday’s Chapter 11 filing.

Related: GNC files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection

Irving, Texas-based CEC Entertainment Inc. has reopened 266 company-operated Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants, but it’s unclear how willing parents will be to host birthday parties and other gatherings.

The company says it will continue to reopen locations and offer carryout while it negotiates with debt and lease holders. 

Related: JC Penney closing 154 stores in first post-bankruptcy phase

Many local businesses were also negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Timshel Cafe in Neenah announced in late July that it would close its doors. The location won’t be empty long – Lawlss Coffee will open its second location in Timshel’s place.

After more than 30 years, Titletown Fitness announced it would shut down permanently in early July. Owners tell WFRV Local 5 says they lost about 40 percent of their members after being closed for about two months.

In late June, Green Bay’s Black and Tan Grille announced it would temporarily close its dining services, effective immediately, through at least August.

On May 27, it was announced that Fond du Lac’s Schreiner’s Restaurant would close permanently after over 80 years in business due to financial challenges created by COVID-19.

On the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, The Cannery in Green Bay announced it would close its door permanently due to challenges imposed by the virus.

Coronavirus has been the last straw for many Northeast Wisconsin businesses – Foremost Farms USA announced it will close its Chilton cheese plant facility in July after the market change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early May, Harbor House announced Neenah’s JumpStart Auto Repair, which used the proceeds from customers’ auto service to fund auto repairs for domestic abuse survivors, would not reopen, saying the decision comes after the financial strain caused by a shift in business due to the pandemic followed the discovery that property had been stolen from JumpStart’s garage.

In the same time frame, Harmony Pizza of Appleton announced it would be closing its doors after nearly three years in business, citing pressures to achieve a strong service to the community and the coronavirus.

Manitowoc’s Holy Family College announced it would cease operations by the end of August. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries says the decision was made due to increased operating costs, unstable enrollment, and the impact of the coronavirus.

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