Chuck E. Cheese’s slogan offers to be a place “where a kid can be a kid,” but the family fun doesn’t always extend to adults.
Altercations at the chain’s nationwide franchises have for years led to assault charges and injuries among adults supposedly supervising minors. The most recent incident transpired in Everett, Mass. Monday, where for the second time in three months, police stopped a fight at a local Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Boston Globe reported.
The only person injured walked away with a minor cut, according to police, though two were taken to the hospital after an unknown object was thrown. In December, five people had been arrested for drinking inside the kids’ arcade and, when approached by police officers, punching and kicking them in response, according to boston.com.
Searches online turn up dozens of altercations at the arcade going back years — and the video clips to match. In October, a group of parents got into a 10-minute fight pulling hair and screaming at a Florida Chuck E. Cheese’s, as 16-year-old Krystel Jimenez watched.
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In March, a fight at a Pittsburgh Chuck E. Cheese’s involved up to 50 people after an argument between a 1-year-old’s parents escalated, according to KDKA.
Other Chuck E. Cheese’s fights, from Michigan to Tennessee, have also been immortalized in smartphone clips, according to Vice.
Many of the fights documented have involved drinking, though not all of the chain’s locations allow alcohol to be served. At least one theory suggests that the franchise’s popularity as a gathering for birthdays and kids’ events might be part of the problem. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that law enforcement officials blamed drinking, crowd size and “the high emotions of children’s birthday parties” for increasing the likelihood of altercations at the mouse-themed venues over other family entertainment locations.
In an interview with Vice in 2013, CEC Entertainment Inc.’s Director of Corporate Communications Michelle Chism acknowledged that kids’ guardians — rather than the kids themselves — were often the source of the brawls.
“Over 99.99 percent of approximately 65,000,000 annual guest visits at Chuck E. Cheese’s go without incident,” she said at the time. “Sadly, just like kids’ soccer and baseball games across our country, typically the incidents are not with the kids—but regrettably the parents.”
At the time, she said, Chuck E. Cheese’s was providing annual conflict resolution training to employees and decreasing seating in its showrooms to control crowds.
In a statement after Monday’s altercation in Massachusetts, the company released another statement reiterating its commitment to safety.
"We pride ourselves on providing wholesome entertainment to families with young children and maintaining a safe experience for our guests and staff is a primary concern for us, just as it is top-of-mind for the families and parents who visit us," it read.