It seems like every day we hear of another business filing for bankruptcy because they are experiencing hard times due to the coronavirus. Today is no exception as we learnt that Chuck E. Cheese is filling for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closing some locations...including one in West Michigan.

Chuck E. Cheese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after 43 years of business. The restaurant chain had been struggling before the coronavirus pandemic, but the lockdown was "the final straw".

Recently, while driving down Alpine Avenue, I have seen their signs along the road saying they were open for take out pizza. I have to admit, I thought to myself "who would go to Chuck E. Cheese to get just pizza?" People go there so that their kids (and the adults too!) can play the games like Skee-Ball, Whac-A-Mole and arcade basketball, and for the atmosphere. I figured they would have a hard time surviving on just pizza to go orders.

As part of the restructuring, the company plans to permanently close about 34 locations that were still open when the coronavirus pandemic began. One of those stores on the list to permanently close is the Chuck E. Cheese in Muskegon, MI. It looks like the Alpine Avenue and The Shops at Centerpoint locations are still open, although they do not appear on the official Chuck E. Cheese website as open locations. Their individual websites indicate they are open for take out.

The company has requested a judge's permission to continue to honor game credits, tickets, tokens, gift cards, customer deposits, discount offers and loyalty accounts, as long as the company remains in business. They hope that the Chapter 11 process will help them shed debt and emerge as a more sustainable operation.

The first location opened in San Jose, CA, as Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, on May 17, 1977. The restaurant was the first family restaurant to integrate food, animated entertainment, and an indoor arcade. Following a filing for bankruptcy in March 1984, the chain was acquired by competitor ShowBiz Pizza Place in May 1985. In 1990, the company began unifying the two brands as Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza.

Here in the Grand Rapids area, the restaurants stared out at ShowBiz Pizza. The Alpine Ave. location was actually across the street from it's current site. It was originally in the old Kmart building, taking over the space once occupied by Eberhard's grocery store.