LIMA — Lima is without a place “where a kid can be a kid.”
Chuck E. Cheese permanently closed its Lima location as part of voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Southern District of Texas for the parent company, CEC Entertainment.
The company filed a list of 45 current leases it plans to reject, including the location at 2809 Elida Road. Other Ohio locations slated for shuttering include a location on Macsway Avenue in Columbus and in the Richland Mall in Mansfield, according to court filings.
Crews worked Friday to dismantle and remove furniture and games from inside the building in Lima. They declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the company didn’t answer a call Friday afternoon.
“After evaluating a number of factors, the Debtors concluded that the Underperforming Venues do not meet the requisite performance criteria to rationalize their continued operation,” according to a filing in the case.
The business was a go-to destination for parents and children, with a combination of classic games such as Skee-Ball and arcade basketball as well as pizza, wings and salads. Visitors to the Lima location often saw a costumed version of the company’s mascot, Chuck E. Cheese.
The company acknowledged Wednesday it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy “in order to overcome the financial strain resulting from prolonged, COVID-19 related venue closures,” according to a press release. The company has 555 company-owned stores and 186 franchised locations.
The Lima location turned to take-out orders of its pizza and wings when in-person dining and arcades were closed in the heart of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chuck E. Cheese opened in Lima in May 2009, in the location that formerly held New York Carpet World and buffet restaurants. It was originally a franchise owned by Ed Dixon and Dan Wilkinson, the former football standout for The Ohio State University and the Cincinnati Bengals. Their Buckeye Entertainment LLC bought the property for $650,000 in 2008.
In March 2018, Buckeye Entertainment sold the property for $1.2 million to Niki Lima LP, a San Diego, Calif.-based boutique real estate investment company. There were four new HVAC units installed in the building in July 2018, according to its Facebook page.
In December, the property sold for $2.236 million to Benito Trust and its trustees, Keith and Nancy Ross, of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
Readers of The Lima News voted Chuck E. Cheese as the best place to have a children’s party in the Best of the Region in 2019, 2018, 2015, 2014, 2013.