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A Suburban Chuck E. Cheese's Could Close for Being a Hub of Violence

A Chuck E. Cheese's in Oak Lawn, Illinois—about 30 minutes outside of Chicago—has become such a hub for violence and discord that the mayor has put it under threat of closure after 33 years of operation.
Photo via Flickr user Mike Mozart

You know that game "Two Truths and a Lie"? Let's play "One Truth and One Lie."

Which is true?: A) that a Chuck E. Cheese's location in Chicago has had so many fights, shootings, and other disturbing incidents that it may soon have to close, or B) that a Chuck E. Cheese's location in Chicago was found to contain a Satanic chamber full of human remains.

OK, spoiler time. No, police did not find a Satanic dungeon in the basement of a Chuck E. Cheese's in Chicago, no matter what those links that your 14-year-old cousin and vaguely senile childhood piano teacher are so fond of posting on Facebook may say. While the mental image of a candlelit pentagram burnt into those multicolored foam mats was compelling, it was just another internet lie shilling for some curiosity clicks. May our social media feeds be forever liberated from this highly entertaining but completely fabricated story.


On the other hand, that means that yes, a Chuck E. Cheese's in Oak Lawn, Illinois—about 30 minutes outside of Chicago—has become such a hub for violence and discord that it's under threat of closure after 33 years of operation, according to NBC 5 Chicago. Yes, we are talking about a restaurant from the same chain of mouse-mascoted, pizza-serving playplaces that you used to crawl through the webbed tunnels of as an innocent young child.

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Somehow, the dangerous happenings that have been taking place at this location managed to necessitate 46 calls to 911 in 2015 alone, and 43 calls so far in 2016.

Photo via Flickr user piratejohnny

Where a kid can be a kid, or where a kid can witness 46 disputes and emergencies in a single year? Photo via Flickr user piratejohnny.

The restaurant is still open, but NBC 5 correspondent Christian Farr says that local police describe the strip mall restaurant as having been "a problem for years," and it could lose its business license if no improvements are made. Sandra Bury, the mayor of Oak Lawn, is concerned that the safety of children is at stake if the location were to remain functional.

"It's getting a reputation with this police activity, where maybe it's not a safe place for kids," Bury says. "This isn't just a regular establishment." In 2014, four men were arrested after a fight at the salad bar escalated into a huge brawl outside the restaurant.

But Chuck E. Cheese's hopes that changes to the restaurant's layout and interior could help to resolve some of these issues. Christelle Dupont, PR Manager of CEC Entertainment, Chuck E. Cheese's parent company, shared a statement with MUNCHIES regarding the location. "We've been meeting with officials from The Village of Oak Lawn to discuss the operations in our local restaurant. We understand that there have been incidents at local businesses, including ours, and we always work with the local community to ensure a safe and wholesome environment at our restaurants," the statement reads.


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It also clarifies that in addition to installing surveillance cameras and implementing uniformed security guards, the restaurant has started displaying "Good Guest Behavior" signs—essentially rules of conduct—in three different areas of the restaurant, removing tables to ease the flow of people throughout the room, brightening the lights, "moving the toddler zone" (whatever that means), and, sadly, replacing the "Sky Tubes"—those raised, maze-like tunnels that are fun as hell to crawl through but are probably permanently filled with crumbs and child saliva (at best)—with other games that will increase visibility in the space.

Photo via Flickr user Jim Trottier

R.I.P. the Sky Tubes at the Oak Lawn Chuck E. Cheese's. Photo via Flickr user Jim Trottier.

"Although we believe that these enhancements have been highly successful and have made a positive impact on the guest experience, we are open to continuing to work with the Village and welcome its suggestions for further improvement, which includes hiring a security expert to assist us in evaluating our Oak Lawn restaurant," the statement says.

Hopefully, these alterations will create a safer environment for kids, but we have a feeling that it's their parents who are the ones ultimately exercising all of this very bad-sounding behavior, given the nature of the complaints.

But look on the bright side: At least the basement isn't full of skeletons and sacrificial altars.