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Chuck E. Cheese Restaurants Not Only Hotbeds of Violence, the Toys'll Kill You, Too

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More than 1.2 million Chuck E. Cheese light-up rings and toy eyeglasses are being recalled, after the Consumer Product Safety Commission voiced concerns following two incidents in which children were able to break the plastic rings and get to the small batteries inside.

One child swallowed a battery and one was able to get the battery inside his nose.

There were no reported incidents with the eyeglasses.

However, while no one may have been hurt by the glasses, by all accounts, Chuck E. Cheese restaurants are responsible for all manner of injuries, as the chain has come to be known for a virtually unexplainable level of violence in and around its locations.

According to one law-enforcement official interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the number of on-premise assaults officers respond to is often “far higher than at nearby restaurants, and even many bars.”

One police captain said his department responds to more fights at the town’s Chuck E. Cheese than at the local biker hangout.

Chuck E. Cheese does seem to be a veritable powder keg when compared with other, similar establishments, like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, or Red Lobster.

At a Flint, Michigan, Chuck E. Cheese not long ago, an 85-person fight broke out, requiring responding police units to fill the restaurant with pepper gas to quell the disturbance.

In Brookfield, Wisconsin, a child's birthday party descended into madness when 40 people did battle in front of the restaurant’s music stage, where an animatronic chicken and the Chuck E. Cheese mascot were performing.

And in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a woman in her thirties -- upset that a six-year-old boy was “hogging” a video game -- grabbed his tokens from his hand. The Wall Street Journal reports that child’s mother confronted the woman, whose male companion began choking her and slammed her against the game console. Chuck E. Cheese employees pulled the man off the mother, and the suspects, who fled the scene, are still at large.

Chuck E. Cheese corporate has now posted signs listing prohibited behavior at 25% of the company’s 538 locations nationwide.

Some of the regulations, according to the New York Post:
  • No gang-style apparel, including but not limited to hats, shirts, buckles, bandannas, towels, or other like-group apparel, accessories, or decorations likely to provoke others.

  • No gang-type conduct or behavior, including verbal slogans, greetings, hand signs, or intimidation. No weapons or tools of any sort whatsoever; this includes knives, chains, screwdrivers, glass cutters, or scribes.

  • No obscene, offensive or hostile language or gestures.

Lynne Collier, Managing Director of Restaurant Research at Sterne Agee, can’t make heads or tails of the disproportionate levels of assault and battery at Chuck E. Cheese.

Collier tells Minyanville:
I don’t know. I really don’t. You do see it more often at Chuck E. Cheese. It could be alcohol, it’s crowded and noisy, especially on weekends, and that can be stressful for parents. From what I hear, children generally enjoy the Chuck E. Cheese experience more than the parents do, so perhaps the parents are on edge already, not being particularly happy that they’re there in the first place, and the stress of the situation just gets to them. It’s certainly very odd, as it’s been going on for years. I’ve even heard that parents have actually beaten up Chuck E. Cheese himself.
This being the case, the CPSC would be better served making sure a certain Mr. Charles E. Cheese has a good medical plan rather than concerning themselves over a couple of kids shoving batteries up their noses.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.