I took my grandchildren to Chuck E Cheese the other day. I LOVE Chuck E Cheese, and have had my own children's birthday parties there for more than 30 years. No muss, no fuss, and I don't have to clean my house. Chuck E Cheese has been in at least three
I took my grandchildren to Chuck E Cheese the other day. I LOVE Chuck E Cheese, and have had my own children’s birthday parties there for more than 30 years. No muss, no fuss, and I don’t have to clean my house.
Chuck E Cheese has been in at least three different locations in Warwick over the years and is currently located in the “old” Midland Mall parking lot. (Yes, I am a Rhode Islander who gives location descriptions based on where older buildings used to be.)
The kiddos and I walked into the building wearing our masks and were immediately greeted by a thermometer wielding staff person to take our temperatures. We were then instructed to sanitize our hands. Generally, before entering the play area with the children, we would have all been given hand stamps to verify which children belong to which adults to prevent kidnapping. Their clever response to this during COVID-19 time was to have us take a group “selfie” against embarrassingly cute Chuck E Cheese wallpaper. Not only would it be used to identify us when we left, but it would also be a treasured keepsake photo suitable for framing.
Instead of using the usual multitude of Chuck E Cheese coins to play the games, we were given credit card-like cards for a specified amount of playtime. I greatly missed awkwardly putting the coins in the slots and getting my exercise by picking them up off the ground when I clumsily dropped them. There was something satisfying about having a pile of them weighing down my pockets, and they could be purchased in bulk to take half home for the next visit. Alas, the cards, adorned with a smiling Chuck E Cheese, were not quite a much fun, although I understand that they carry fewer germs than the coins, which had been handled by a multitude of unknown people. In order to encourage repeated hand sanitizing, there were many sanitizing stations throughout the facility, and workers could be seen diligently wiping down machines.
Patrons were encouraged to pay for their food orders with Apple Pay or other aps that would provide the financial information needed without actually touching the register or having to sign anything. The salad bar was closed, although personal salads could still be ordered. My favorite part of the restaurant had always been the ability to refill my Diet Coke as many times as I wanted. Alas, that, too, has changed. Only the staff are able to refill sodas, and they were so busy sanitizing the games that I didn’t want to bother them. Keeping germs at bay was much more important than servicing my gluttonous desire to drink as much free Diet Coke as possible.
The games were situated six feet apart, which made the room look sparse. Games used to be crammed in together as many as possible with buzzers and lights and vibrations felt everywhere. Two-player games were eliminated, some of which had been my favorite to play with my grandchildren. That is a small price to pay for a relatively germ free environment.
Before we left, I had to show our selfie to confirm that the children I came with were the children I was leaving with, and our fun at Chuck E Cheese was over.
With COVID-19 on the rise and concern about restaurants and stores, it would make sense for them to follow Charles Entertainment Cheese’s lead (that being his “birth” name). Because a fever is often the first sign of the virus, wouldn’t it be beneficial to take everyone’s temperature as they enter the place of business? Wouldn’t it be a great precaution to have everyone sanitize their hands when they enter and exit a business? That way they wouldn’t bring any germs in and, God forbid, if they managed to pick up any germs in the store they would be euthanized. Extra staff could be hired to go around and spray and sanitize areas of high volume? If patrons notice their hard work in this area, it can make them more confident that COVID-19 germs are not lurking about. And, yes, wouldn’t the experience be all inclusive if people had to show a selfie of who they came in with. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to get kidnapped.