Is Chuck E. Cheese a Restaurant or a Play Place?

Is Chuck E. Cheese a restaurant or a play place?


Emily Robinson, Journalist

      It is safe to say that all of us students at Piedmont High School know what Chuck E. Cheese is. Even if you have never been to one, the infamy of this establishment reaches into the media and the news enough to be memorable. Stories of the pizza scandals, tv advertisements, gross ball pit, and unnecessarily scary animatronics come to mind. But today we face a question that is integral to the perception of this rat themed memory. Is Chuck E. Cheese a restaurant or a play place? 


      For those of you who don’t know what this article is talking about, Chuck E. Cheese is a family establishment that is famous for its mascot, pizza, and play place. The mascot is a rat named Charles Entertainment Cheese, but most often referred to as Chuck E. Cheese. This rat is an orphan who loves celebrating birthdays because he himself doesn’t know when his own birthday is. He met a failing pizza chef named Pasqually, who saw Chuck E’s singing and entertainment skills and gave him a job singing in his restaurant. This brought success to the restaurant, so Pasqually decided to rebrand from Pasqually’s Pizza to Chuck E. Cheese. That is at least the lore given to us by the company. In reality, the company was started by Nolan Bushnell in 1977. 


      Now that we know the history, we know that Chuck E. Cheese was started as a pizza restaurant in the lore. This definitely adds points to the restaurant theory. Chef Pasqually even recently got his own ghost restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings. Chuck E. Cheese serves a variety of food, including pizza, wings, cake, and salad; they even sell beer and wine – at select locations. Merriam Webster defines a restaurant as “a business establishment where meals or refreshments may be purchased“. Under this definition Chuck E. Cheese can definitely be defined as a restaurant. Case closed, right? 


      Well that’s not quite the case. Under Webster’s definition, you could say that many places that are not commonly accepted as restaurants to be such. Would you be comfortable saying that a Barnes & Noble or a Target that sells Starbucks drinks is a restaurant? What about the Discovery Place? Even our own school meets this description of restaurant, and frankly I don’t think I’m earning my high school education in a restaurant. So maybe it’s not the dictionary definition that makes a restaurant, but the public perception and focus of the company. In an unofficial survey I conducted, 80% of people answered the question “Is Chuck E. Cheese a restaurant or a play place?” by saying it was a play place. So we have the public perception down for the play place theory, but what about company focus? 


      Chuck E. Cheese was founded on the idea of bringing together both fun and food after all, so it really is the experience you have that says what your opinion is. No matter how you or I see it, the most important thing about the place is said by Chuck E. himself, it’s “where a kid can be a kid”.