NYC Parents Protest Alcohol Sales at Chuck E. Cheese

By McCarton Ackerman 03/07/16

Local parents believe that serving alcohol in the Atlantic Terminal Chuck E. Cheese could fuel and increase violence in the area.

NYC Parents Protest Chuck E. Cheese Location Serving Alcohol
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A group of parents in New York City have expressed outrage that a Chuck E. Cheese in Brooklyn is gearing up to start serving alcohol.

The Community Board 2 health committee approved a beer and wine application for the kids’ play place at Atlantic Terminal, one of the busiest districts in the borough. The Atlantic Terminal location's liquor license application will go before the full board on March 9.   

Company spokesperson Alexis Linn said that 75 to 80% of their locations already have an adult drink menu and that they only serve alcohol by the glass, with a two-drink limit. However, some parents have expressed concern that serving alcohol could fuel unruly behavior and increase violence in an area historically ridden with crime.

“Kids should not have people drinking in their fun zone. It's their place to enjoy, not parents,” one local mother told PIX11 News. The owners of the Atlantic Terminal Chuck E. Cheese said they plan to address safety concerns by increasing security and staff. It’s also unclear if the alcohol sales will remain permanent; the Brooklyn location has already tried serving booze once before when they first opened in 2004, but stopped in 2006 due to low sales.

Linn said that their adult drink menu is part of an attempt to appeal to younger parents. Locations that serve alcohol typically have a craft and a seasonal beer option, as well as a mass domestic beer such as Bud Light.

“With a largely millennial parent population, we’re seeing more demand for beer and wine,” Linn told DNAinfo via email. “This generation really wants to 'have their cake and eat it too,' and moms & dads are looking for places that will please the whole family—not just the kids."

But parents may have good reason to be concerned. There have been several instances of adults fist-fighting during kids’ birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese locations. In July 2013, a mass brawl broke out during a birthday party in Commack, N.Y. A YouTube video of the incident showed a little girl trying to break up a fight between two women, one of whom was holding a baby in one hand and throwing punches with the other. Meanwhile, police in Susquehanna, Pa. were called to the local Chuck E. Cheese 17 times over an 18-month period.

"You have to remember where we are. Just because the neighborhood looks better doesn't mean the people are better," Kiana Henderson, a Brooklyn native, tells The Fix

The company said in a 2013 statement to ABC News that "while even one incident is too many, over 99.99% of approximately 65,000,000 annual guest visits at Chuck E. Cheese's go without incident.” They also claimed to have spent $15 million to date on efforts to stop incidents like those through "reduced showroom seating and party parameters in response to recent incidents."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.