Chuck E. Cheese, the pizza shop known for its party spaces, ball pits, and animatronic house band, may be close to having to file bankruptcy, but fans of the chain’s namesake mascot mouse are already planning for its second act.
Like many restaurants, the pizza chain has struggled as coronavirus-related lockdowns shuttered establishments. Since the chain was known more for its convivial atmosphere than its food, Chuck E. Cheese could not rely on takeout orders to stay afloat. While they reportedly tried to take a swing at the delivery market by changing their name to Pasqually’s Pizza and Wings on delivery apps, the clever efforts did not translate into financial stability. Now, according to the Wall Steet Journal, CEC Entertainment, the parent company behind the brand, is nearly $1 billion in debt and is trying to approach lenders for a $200 million loan to keep the business afloat.
As news of the potential bankruptcy loomed, longtime fans who had grown up with the backwards-hat wearing mouse (or even his predecessor the New Jersey rat in a hat) grew concerned and decided to play career counselor for the potentially out-of-work oversized rodent. Soon enough the hashtag #WhatsNextForChuckECheese was trending on Twitter as people opined about the often-animatronic mouse’s job prospects, new ways a man-sized mouse can fill his leisure time, and ideas for new uses for the potentially abandoned pizza parlors. Suggestions ranged from working at an Amazon fulfillment center, living out his Ratatouille-inspired dreams of becoming a chef in Paris, taking photos in New York’s Times Square with other mascots for $5 a pop, or being given up for adoption at his local animal shelter. Many people suggested that Chuck would be hanging out with another former mascot—Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us.
Here are a few ideas for the mouse’s potential future: