The American chain of pizza restaurants and FECs, Chuck E. Cheese’s, is completely changing the look and feel of its locations.

Everything about Chuck E. Cheese’s used to be bold to the point of brash – from its bright colours and flashing lights to its loud bells and animatronic stage show.  Now, after nearly two decades of the same design, the entire experience is undergoing a radical revamp.

“In the last few years, we’ve invested a lot in our food, in our cleanliness, we’ve updated games, you name it we’ve touched it and changed it,” says Tom Leverton, CEO of parent company CEC Entertainment.

So out goes the purple and red awnings, the checkerboard panelling and even the mouse mascot logo.  Instead there will be more muted colours, sleeker furniture, more refined signage and an updated logo.  The aim is to make the experience more appealing for adults.

The new green entrance is a “beacon” for customers, Leverton says. The side of the building is panelled in wood with round cut-outs that bring to mind both pepperoni and the holes in cheese.

Inside, the teal and red booths and tables have been replaced by a much more subtle look. “We wanted to use warm woods, neutral tones and really for moms and dads create an environment that competes with other restaurant choices that they have during the week,” says Leverton.

The new kitchen area is open to the restaurant so customers can see the pizza being made.  “An open kitchen conveys good food credibility,” says Leverton.

The menu itself has also undergone changes.  The company recognised that, while children are perfectly content with pizza and nuggets, Chuck E. Cheese’s adult guests needed more choice.  BBQ chicken pizza and Cali Alfredo pizza have been added to the pizza menu, while fresh wraps and sandwiches provide alternative options.

Entertainment has undergone a shift too.  A centralised dance floor and updated music replace the animatronic stage show.  Mascot Chuck E. will make a live appearance on the dance floor every hour.  “Now we have a lot of contemporary music, you’ll see kids go out there and dance and treat it like a play area,” says Leverton.

The gaming system has also been updated with “Play Passes” eliminating the need for tokens. Parents load money onto the cards and kids then swipe to play games.   However the chain is not getting rid of tickets entirely.  “Tickets are an essential part of the Chuck E. Cheese’s experience,” says Leverton. “For kids, there’s a lot of excitement when those tickets come out of the machine.”

Chuck E. Cheese’s first launched in 1977.  It now has 523 outlets in North and South America and the Middle East.  For the moment just seven restaurants, four in San Antonio and three in Kansas City will get the full look.  Other restaurants in the chain will not be completely renovated at this stage, although they will incorporate elements of the new blueprint.  According to Leverton, the company wants to gauge response to the seven revamped locations, before extending the new design across the system.

Image courtesy of Chuck E. Cheese’s.

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