Children of the ’80s and ’90s remember and love Chuck E. Cheese, an oasis of video games and garbage pizza in a sad and boring world. Sadly, Chuck appears to be in some trouble. While the food and gaming chain still operates about 600 outlets around the world, the Wall Street Journal reports that the company has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is now “in talks with its lenders to raise money to avoid filing for bankruptcy” after accruing some $1 billion in debt.

Chuck E. Cheese first opened in Southern California in 1977 as the brainchild of Noah Bushnell, one of the original founders of Atari. If a bankruptcy does happen, it wouldn’t be the chain’s first; the company struggled in the mid-1980s and was eventually acquired by a competitor, ShowBiz Pizza Place, who then merged the two companies’ operations. In recent months, Chuck E. Cheese has even taken to selling delivery pizza disguised on various takeout apps under the name “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings.” (“Pasqually P. Pieplate” is apparently the name of Chuck E. Cheese’s fictional chef in the Cheese Cinematic Universe.)

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Through all the difficulties, the animatronic mouse has endured. But it looks like this could be the end for Mr. Cheese. We wish him and his employees the best during this extremely difficult time. When we finally get rid of coronavirus we’re going to need places to dump our kids for several hours more than ever.

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