By Jackie Burrell
Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 12:23 pm in Just Bizarre.
Ah, Chuck E. Cheese, purveyor of parties, video games and booze for minors? The kid-centric pizza joint is back in the news again after a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Illinois was cited for serving alcohol to an underage decoy sent in by the police. It’s not the first strike against the cheesy giant mouse either. Last fall, a Rhode Island Chuck E. was nabbed in a similar sting.
Ah, didn’t know that 70% of the nation’s cheesy Chucks served alcohol? Neither did we, till we happened upon the tale of what happened after a Michigan Chuck E. Cheese banned booze last year, after a brawl involving 80 people. The number of fistfights and other problems necessitating police calls at the franchise dropped from 40(!) a year to a dozen, mostly about vandalism and swiped purses.
A recent Wall Street Journal story noted, “Chuck E. Cheese’s bills itself as a place ‘where a kid can be a kid.’ But to law-enforcement officials across the country, it has a more particular distinction: the scene of a surprising amount of disorderly conduct and battery among grown-ups.” Wisconsin police, the story says, complain that they get more calls to break up Chuck E brawls than altercations at the biker bar down the street. The main problem, they said, was the combination of “alcohol, loud noise, thick crowds and the high emotions of children’s birthday parties.” Police were called to one Chuck E party last April when a grown-up interrupted someone else’s kid’s party – 7 cops rolled out and found 40 people knocking over furniture and fighting “in front of the restaurant’s music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain’s namesake mouse perform.”
Some of the pizza parlors have banned booze in response, while others armed their bouncers with guns. Ahem. Somehow, that does not make us feel safer. What do you think? Do you ever go to Chuck E Cheese? Seen anything like this?