Don't let the mouse mascot fool you: This amusement kingdom is founded on the power of pizza. CEC Entertainment operates the Chuck E. Cheese's chain of pizza parlors with more than 550 locations throughout the US, Canada, and a half dozen other countries. The restaurants cater mostly to families with children and feature dining-room entertainment provided by robotic characters, arcade games, and other activities. (The eateries are especially popular destinations for birthday parties.) Games and merchandise account for about 50% of sales. The menu features pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. CEC Entertainment owns and operates about 500 of the pizza and fun joints, while the rest are franchised.
Many Chuck E. Cheese's outlets are found in smaller markets where there is less competition for the family dining dollar. For new store openings, the company is eyeing more populous regions, such as suburban locations near retail shopping areas.
The pizza chain has been looking to international markets for expansion through franchising in certain countries located in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. During 2011, international franchisees opened two new stores, and CEC Entertainment plans to open several international franchise locations in 2012.
Unlike many restaurant operators, the company's revenues have remained stable in recent years, even in the midst of the prolonged recession in the US. In fiscal 2011 CEC Entertainment reported about $821 million in revenue after bringing in roughly $817 million in fiscal 2010 and $818 million in 2009.
The Chuck E. Cheese's concept has successfully cemented a place in the family dining market by focusing on the entertainment options available at its restaurants and marketing itself as a safe and convenient place for parents to take their kids. In order to maintain that position, CEC Entertainment is constantly adding new games, as well as expanding some locations to offer more area for entertainment.
The Chuck E. Cheese's concept was created by Nolan Bushnell, founder of video game pioneer Atari Corporation, in 1977. Showbiz Pizza acquired the chain in 1984 and changed its name to CEC Entertainment 1998. – less