Chuck E. Cheese's
|Type||Privately held company|
|Industry||Family entertainment centers, fast food|
|Founded||San Jose, California, U.S. (1977 )|
|Headquarters||Irving, Texas, United States|
|Number of locations||577 stores (2014)|
|Area served||North America, South America, Middle East|
|Products||Pizza, arcade games, kiddie rides, birthday parties|
|Revenue||US$248,133,000 (1st Q.2009), 1% from 1st Q.2008|
|Operating income||US$59,214,000 (1st Q.2009) from 1st Q.2008|
|Net income||US$34,052,000 (1st Q.2009) 1% from 1st Q.2008|
|Total equity||US$725,868,000 at 2009-03-29 1% from 4th Q.2008|
|Subsidiaries||Showbiz Pizza Place & Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre (merged into Chuck E. Cheese's)|
Chuck E. Cheese's (formerly Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre and Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza) is a chain of American family entertainment centers. Chuck E. Cheese's is the main brand of CEC Entertainment, Inc., with its headquarters in Irving, Texas.
The concept is a sit-down pizza restaurant, complemented by arcade games, amusement rides, an animatronic show, and other diversions, such as climbing equipment, tubes, and slides − all mainly directed at younger children. The brand is represented by Chuck E. Cheese (character), an anthropomorphic mouse.
The company was founded as Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre by Nolan Bushnell in 1977, officially being labeled as the first family restaurant to integrate food, animated entertainment, and an indoor arcade. Pizza Time Theatre and Showbiz Pizza Place merged in 1984, bringing both concepts under the wing of Showbiz Pizza Time, Inc. In 1991–92, Showbiz Pizza Time, Inc. unified the two brands into Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza. In 1994, Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza underwent a redesign, changing to Chuck E. Cheese's by 1995. In 1998, Showbiz Pizza Time, Inc. was renamed to CEC Entertainment, Inc. In 2007, the company celebrated its 30th anniversary, and as of March 2014, it operates 577 restaurants.
Chuck E. Cheese's, originally referred to as Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater, was founded by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell who was seeking to expand the purview of video game arcades beyond more adult locations like pool halls to a kid and family friendly venue. Bushnell’s experience in the amusement park industry, as well as his fondness of The Walt Disney Company, was influential in the conceptualization of the Pizza Time Theatre concept. The first location opened in San Jose, California in 1977, and was labeled as the first family restaurant to integrate food, cheap animated entertainment, and an indoor arcade. In 1978, Bushnell purchased the Pizza Time Theatre concept from Atari's then-corporate parent, Warner Communications.
As the restaurant became increasingly successful, he began to franchise, resulting in a co-development agreement between Bushnell and Robert Brock of Topeka Inn Management in 1979. The agreement handed Brock exclusive franchising rights for opening Pizza Time Theatres in sixteen states across the southern and midwestern United States, while also forming a company subdivision, "Pizza Show Biz", to develop the Pizza Time Theatres.
Showbiz Pizza Place
In November 1978, Brock met Aaron Fechter of Creative Engineering, Inc. Concerned that Fechter’s animatronics would be too strong a competition for Bushnell’s work, Brock requested that Bushnell release him from the co-development agreement, citing misrepresentation. In December 1979, Brock and Fechter formed “Showbiz Pizza Place Inc”, severing Brock's business relationship with Bushnell. Showbiz Pizza Place was conceptually identical to Pizza Time Theatre in all aspects except for animation, which would be provided by Creative Engineering. Showbiz Pizza Place opened its first location on March 3, 1980, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Upon the opening of Showbiz Pizza Place, Bushnell sued Brock and Topeka Inn Management over breach of contract. Brock immediately issued a counter-suit against Bushnell, citing misrepresentation. The court case began in March 1980, eventually settling out of court with Showbiz agreeing to pay Pizza Time Theatre a portion of its profits over the following decade. During this period, Topeka Inn Management also changed its name to Brock Hotel Corporation and moved its headquarters to Irving, Texas. Both restaurants experienced increased success as the video game industry became more robust, and, to maintain competition, both franchises continually modified and diversified their animatronic shows.
Mergers and restructuring
In 1981, Pizza Time Theatre went public; however, the evolving video game industry resulted in significant losses for Pizza Time Theatre, which lost $15 million in 1983, and by 1984, Bushnell’s debts were insurmountable, resulting in the filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Pizza Time Theatre Inc. Showbiz then bought the foundering company, recreating itself as Showbiz Pizza Time Inc.
After the merger, both restaurants continued operating under the different titles, while major financial restructuring had begun, eventually becoming publicly traded in 1989, with sales increasing by 8.3%. During this period, Creative Engineering began to sever ties with Showbiz Pizza Time (they officially left the company in September 1990), eventually resulting in the unification of its mixed characters. By 1992, all restaurants assumed the name of Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza. However, the name was changed to Chuck E. Cheese's in 1994 during a redesigning of the concept. In 1998, the company renamed itself CEC Entertainment, Inc.. Part of this renaming was related to a move from the NASDAQ to the NYSE. In 1999, CEC Entertainment, Inc. bought out competitor Discovery Zone. Chuck E. Cheese's celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2007.
In February 2014, Apollo Global Management acquired CEC Entertainment for $54 per share, or about US $950 million. There are 577 open locations throughout North America, South America, and the Middle East.
In 2012, Chuck E. Cheese's announced that their Chuck E. Cheese mascot would receive a major makeover to make the character look more like a rockstar. Jaret Reddick, lead singer of the musical group Bowling for Soup, was hired as the new voice of Chuck E. Cheese, who had been voiced by Duncan Brannan for many years.
- Smile America with Chuck E. Cheese! (1977-1984)
- Better Than Ever (1984-1986)
- When You're Hungry for Fun (1986-1989)
- Where a Kid Can Be a Kid! (1986–2012)
- Where Awesome Parents Go! (2012–present)
While its primary focus is pizza, Chuck E. Cheese's also offers cold-cut sandwiches, buffalo wings, salad bars and desserts. Some stores are also used as "test" locations which feature new Chuck E. Cheese foods. Certain Chuck E. Cheese locations also offer beer and wine.
Starting on November 13, 2012, new gluten-free menu items are available at more than 500 locations in the U.S. and Canada. This currently includes a choice of a personal-size cheese pizza and an individual chocolate cupcake.
Arcade and currency
From the time of the company's inception to today, one of the main draws for the stores has been the arcade. The arcade games primarily consist of either redemption games or video arcade games.
The brass tokens issued by the company for use in their arcades exist in numerous varieties, and are collected by exonumia enthusiasts. The company once tested a card access method for use with their arcade and skill games in one location. The test location would no longer use tokens, and instead use a refillable card to access credits, which replace tokens, and points, which replace tickets. However, this was later scrapped.
Along with the arcade, the other main draw for the restaurants since the beginning was its animatronic show, until the mid-1990s. More recently, less attention has been placed on animatronics. However, there are now several different styles of animatronic shows in use within the company, depending on when the restaurant opened, whether it was renovated, and other factors.
When the first location opened in 1977, the animatronic characters were featured in framed portraits hanging on the walls of the main dining area, but they are no longer in use today. The show featured Crusty the cat (the first character to face retirement as he was soon replaced with Mr. Munch in 1978), Pasqually the singing chef, Jasper T. Jowls, and the main focus of the show, Chuck E. Cheese. Later, restaurants also added "Cabaret" shows in separate rooms of each restaurant. They also frequently changed out the sole female character, named Helen Henny, in the main show. They achieved this by applying a cosmetic change to the existing robot, as well as a change of stage backdrop, to match the performer.
Beginning in 1998, the company's show installed into new stores, referred to as "Studio C", consists of a single animated Chuck E. Cheese character alongside large television monitors, lighting effects, and interactive elements. The other characters appear as puppets on the TV screens. In some markets, the company has also tried a new store concept that omits the animated show entirely. This is the Circle of Lights stage which either consists of a live Chuck E. Cheese costume Character or an animatronic in a futuristic light stage with large television monitors.
The members that currently perform in the animatronic show are:
- Chuck E. Cheese — vocals
- Helen Henny — vocals
- Mr. Munch — vocals, keyboards
- Jasper T. Jowls — vocals, guitar
- Pasqually E. Pieplate — vocals, drums, percussion
There are two types of costumed shows used by Chuck E. Cheese's: the LIVE! show and the Road show. The LIVE! show is performed at the front of the stage in the showroom, whenever a child is celebrating a birthday. The live show is a way of pumping up the crowd before the rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" is sung to the child that is celebrating the birthday. A costumed Chuck E. Cheese dances with the guests and sings, while being accompanied by the cast members. The Road show is a performance by a costumed Chuck E. Cheese character, and is performed outside the normal showroom. Children are gathered via the public announcement system or by Chuck E. Cheese himself. Chuck E. Cheese wants the kids to dance in order to win free tickets. The free tickets are thrown at the end of the performance for all the kids that participated. Chuck E. comes out every hour on the half hour(12:30, 1:30, etc.).
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