Back in 1977, Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre opened in San Jose, CA. It was the first restaurant of its kind with a family-friendly setting featuring video games, pizza and animatronic animal performers.
Since then, the chain—now known simply as Chuck E. Cheese—has grown to include 500 locations across the United States, Canada and Guam. Kids and parents have become accustomed to the vivid colors, simple menu and cacophony of video game sound effects, laughing children and singing animals.
But the times—and the Chuck E. Cheeses—they are a-changin’. The kid-centric restaurant is making some major changes, many of which seem to be geared toward improving the experience of parents.
Read on to learn about the major modifications that might be happening soon at a Chuck E. Cheese near you.
Both the exterior and interior of many Chuck E. Cheese restaurants are getting some significant updates. Inside, the vividly colored tables and booths are being replaced by warm, neutral tones. The outsides have a fresh, modern look, such as this San Antonio, Texas location tweeted by Melanie from the blog Story of Five.
— Melanie 💕 The Story of Five (@storyoffive) August 9, 2017
The restaurant has added adult-friendly menu items over the past few years, such as wraps, gluten-free pizza and even alcohol. They recently announced that their new thin-crust pizza beat Pizza Hut hands-down in blind taste tests. Philly cheese steak pizza is a recent limited time offering, as well.
In addition, remodeled locations will feature open pizza kitchens at the front of the restaurants, where guests can watch as cooks prepare their pizzas.
Breaking Up the Band
Newly designed locations are missing one very noticeable feature: the animatronic band. In a move to create a more modern experience that sparks new interest from kids and their parents, Chuck E.’s robotic friends did not receive an encore in remodeled restaurants.
Instead, there is an illuminated dance floor where a live Chuck E. Cheese shows up to boogie and interact with kids.
Currently, only seven restaurants are undergoing these significant changes: four locations in San Antonio, Texas and three in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Does that mean the animatronic characters at your local Chuck E. Cheese are safe? Likely not.
“The kids stopped looking at the animatronics years and years ago, and they would wait for the live Chuck E. to come out,” CEC Chief Executive Tom Leverton told CBS News.
You may want to go soak up the nostalgia while you still can.