COLORADO SPRINGS — Finding a way to safely and responsibly reopen is a challenge businesses still face during this global pandemic. News5 found out longtime family entertainment staple Chuck E. Cheese is trying to rebound in Colorado Springs from coronavirus shutdowns and why business experts say these decisions are so difficult right now.
Chuck E. Cheese definitely felt the impact of coronavirus when the company decided to file for bankruptcy over the summer. It left the future of two Colorado Springs locations up in the air. Many families weren't sure if they'd be able to come back and make memories at these restaurants ever again. But recently, Chuck E. Cheese decided it was ready to open its doors and it was time for a comeback.
With nearly 600 locations nationwide and four decades in business, even longtime family entertainment hub Chuck E. Cheese was overwhelmed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We did have to close all the restaurants, our game room, party area, everything just went silent. It was a very very sad time," said Colorado Springs Chuck E. Cheese General Manager Erica Lepe.
Filing for bankruptcy during the summer, Chuck E. Cheese's parent company reached an agreement for millions of dollars in financing to help them move forward with reopening.
Seven months after closing the inside of their restaurants guests are being welcomed back with masks on, hands sanitized, and temperatures taken at the door. For safety reasons, guests can expect limited gaming and dining rooms at both Colorado Springs locations.
"So we have made a lot of changes to our game room but it's still very exciting. For example, some of our games are closed with the temporarily closed sign to ensure that we have social distancing between each game," said Ciara Moore, a local Chuck E. Cheese employee.
As employees work to sanitize and clean the tables and games, guests will notice paper tickets are gone. Now, its e-tickets loaded right onto game cards.
Douglas Haskins grew up playing at the Chuck E. Cheese near the World Arena. He and his family were some of the first customers to return.
"I just have memories here. It's really great they are opening back up," said Haskins.
"I'm a Colorado Native so this is a Chuck E. Cheese that I went to growing up as well," said Moore. "Everybody's health and safety is our main priority, but we still want people to have fun. We still want kids to celebrate their birthday parties."
University of Colorado Colorado Springs economics expert Tatiana Bailey says the challenges of opening up are being felt by businesses across the board as they look to rebound.
"Is it actually clean and then is the perception there for customers that hey this is a safe place to go?" said Bailey. "How long can you either operate at a very skinny level with reduced activity over the winter months? Can you survive closing down if you need to?"
As for the Colorado Springs Chuck E. Cheese locations, employees say it's up to them to prove to customers things are safe and worth the visit.
"Absolutely. We do want to prove that. We do you want to prove that we're safe and we're a great environment," said Lepe. "We're really pushing our team members to make sure they're out there and communicating everything, no matter what it might be."
Chuck E. Cheese managers have already started to work on a unique way for families to safely celebrate Halloween and to help area schools with fundraisers.
To find out more information visit: Chuck E. Cheese website