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Chuck E. Cheese parent files for bankruptcy

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Chuck E. Cheese's parent company, CEC Entertainment, said Thursday it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the "financial strain" of mass restaurant closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it expects to continue operating many of the family-oriented restaurants, which include the Peter Piper Pizza chain, as it reorganizes under the oversight of a federal bankruptcy court.

CEC said it had reopened 266 company-operated Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants as of June 24, which represents about half of its 555 company-owned restaurants. Those restaurants will continue to offer dine-in, delivery and carry-out services, as well as hosting birthday parties, while additional locations will continue to reopen, it said in the statement.

Bankruptcy filings are on the rise, with 722 companies seeking bankruptcy protection around the U.S. in May, a 48% increase from the year-ago period. Business restrictions that shuttered many businesses during the coronavirus outbreak pushed some companies into insolvency. Chuck E. Cheese parent CEC pointed to "prolonged, COVID-19 related venue closures" as impacting its operations.

"The Chapter 11 process will allow us to strengthen our financial structure as we recover from what has undoubtedly been the most challenging event in our company's history and get back to the business of delivering memories, entertainment and pizzas for another 40 years and beyond," David McKillips, the chief executive of CEC, said in the statement.

There are an additional 186 franchise-owned restaurants, which CEC said operate under separate legal and financial structures and aren't included in the bankruptcy.

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