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Your Favorite Childhood Restaurant Just Officially Went Bankrupt

Will you have to say goodbye to the place where a kid could be a kid?

Add another one to the list of beloved restaurants that filed for bankruptcy during coronavirus. This time, it's a cherished, childhood chain that will surely stoke your nostalgia for those carefree days of birthday parties, pizza, and games.

Chuck E. Cheese, the restaurant chain adored by children—and perhaps even more so by parents who could finally take a couple hours off from babysitting duties—officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

If you grew up near a Chuck E. Cheese, you likely went to at least one birthday party at the chain famous for its video games, singing animatronic mouse shows, and pizza. But that may have been the last you've thought about the family-friendly restaurant. The 43-year-old chain, which bills itself as a place "where a kid could be a kid," has been struggling for nearly a decade, and the coronavirus pandemic finally pushed the chain over the edge.

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According to parent company CEC Entertainment Inc., which also owns Arizona-based pizza chain Peter Piper Pizza, the prolonged closure of many venues due to coronavirus restrictions is what led to the company's bankruptcy filing. While 266 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants have reopened and are offering dine-in, delivery and carry-out services, it doesn't come as a shock to realize that parents aren't all that interested in hosting a kid's birthday party in a dark restaurant with shared arcade games. (That being said, Chuck E. Cheese has changed their birthday party policy to make these events as safe as possible. Birthday parties are limited to dedicated hours and the restaurant is following all CDC, federal, state and local safety guidelines. Make sure you're also keeping an eye out for your own health with these 40 Ways to Stay Safe as Restaurants Reopen Near You.)

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While the company declared bankruptcy, that doesn't mean this is the last you'll see of Chuck E. Cheese—yet. "The Chapter 11 process will allow us to strengthen our financial structure as we recover from what has undoubtedly been the most challenging event in our company's history," CEO David McKillips said in a statement.

The restaurant chain will continue to slowly reopen the remaining 468 locations as it develops a strategic plan to get back in the black. If the bankruptcy process is approved, the chain will be allowed to maintain operations, including being able to honor your gift cards and play passes. (Which, if you haven't been to Chuck E. Cheese since the days of tokens, is now a fancy, 21st-century tap-to-play game card system.)

To show your support for the beloved chain—without visiting a location in person—you can always order food from the restaurant to go. Chuck E. Cheese has secretly been operating under the name Pasqually's Pizza and Wings on delivery apps like GrubHub. If it sounds weird to you that you should order pizza from Chuck E. Cheese, know that the family dining restaurant actually beat Pizza Hut's pizza in a nationwide blind taste test a few years back.

Obviously not all restaurants have high-touch arcade games that could put you at risk of contracting coronavirus as Chuck E. Cheese does, but that doesn't mean other eating establishments are any safer. Be aware of these 7 Unsuspecting Things You Touch at a Restaurant That Can Transmit Coronavirus.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more