chuck e. chaos

From Reverie‘s this morning:

The next time you’re thinking of taking your kids to the Chuck E. Cheese in Milwaukee, remember to leave your “knives, chains, screwdrivers and glass cutters” at home, reports Anna Prior in the Wall Street Journal (12/9/08). The “gangster-style apparel” isn’t allowed, either. Incredibly, these rules are for real and were made necessary after a few too many calls to the local police station to break up fights at Chuck E. Cheese, the family-oriented restaurant “where a kid can be a kid,” or so it’s advertised. Apparently, at some locations, it’s more like a place where adults can be juveniles, or even animals … where “beasts rush to protect their young when they sense a threat.”

“There’s a biker bar down the street and we barely get any calls there,” says Timothy Imler, police chief in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where some 12 Chuck E. Cheese fights have occurred since January 2007. “We’ve had some unfortunate and unusual altercations between adults at these locations,” acknowledges Richard Huston, the chain’s evp of marketing. According to law-enforcement officials, “alcohol, loud noise, thick crowds and the high emotions of children’s birthday parties make the restaurants more prone to disputes than other family-entertainment venues.” Frank Farley of Temple University meanwhile points to a certain “mama-bear instinct.”

He explains: “It is part of the species, in fact — in the animal kingdon … We do it all the time.” Of course this is not at all what Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, had in mind when he opened the first Chuck E. Cheese in San Jose in 1977. He envisioned a place “where young people could play games in a family atmosphere.” Unfortunately, it is precisely the allure of inexpensive videogames that not only brings in an unsavory element, but also create flashpoints for disputes. It doesn’t help that the chain tends to locate in high-crime neighborhoods, either. Some restaurants have stopped serving alcohol, but Richard Hutson says they won’t make the games more expensive to deter thuggery because that would be “inconsistent with our value message.”

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3 thoughts on “chuck e. chaos

  1. first, let me say that the big mouse scared the hell out of my kid when she was little. second, there was some kind of animal in costume band that almost put me in a psych unit, so brand loyal to Chuck E. I am not. But seriously folks, stop opening kids restaurants in high crime neighborhoods. What is this, a reduced rent thing. Sheesh!

  2. Now wait a gosh darned minute. It’s creepy and the food is bad and the music is loud and the animatronics are scary, but – oh wait, what was my point? Okay, Chuck E. Cheese is nasty, but I can ignore my kids there without getting the stink eye and I love that sketch machine.

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