The food industry has had to adapt in some pretty unexpected ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but no chain restaurant's tactics have been quite as buzzworthy as Chuck E. Cheese. The pizza restaurant, which is largely known for its arcade games and general kid-friendly fun, recently grabbed headlines with the news that it is selling pizza under a completely different name - Pasqually's Pizza and Wings - on popular food delivery apps like Grubhub. The news caught the attention of horrified food fans and nostalgic '90s kids alike, and someone with a close tie to Chuck E. Cheese even weighed in. The former voice of Chuck E. Cheese, Duncan Brannan, addressed the culinary catfishing in a recent interview with Mel Magazine. As he argued, Chuck E. Cheese moonlighting under the name Pasqually's actually has some positives in terms of marketing.
“The whole business of Chuck E. Cheese is designed around the birthday experience, so people don’t normally think of pizza when they think of Chuck E. Cheese, even if it is a good product," Brannan explained. "People think of birthday parties, the arcade, and a ball crawl, but not pizza.”
“Businesses have done this for years — where they create their own competitor to spread their market,” Brannan added. “I also read that it was a new recipe, so more power to them, especially considering the fact that everyone is hurting from this pandemic — they’re trying to figure out how to stay in business."
Pasqually's got its name from a character in the chain's fictional Munch's Make Believe Band, a pizza chef named Pasqually P. Pieplate. Bob West, who voiced the mustachioed character from 1986 to 1999, also suggested that this kind of reinvention is normal.
“I don’t have any inside info from corporate and I don’t speak for the company, but from what I’ve read, it sounds like they’re doing what a lot of companies do: creating a new spinoff premium concept and brand,” West explained. “At the same time, they’re helping keep people employed. I think people just enjoy saying ‘Gotcha!’ even when nothing nefarious is going on. Besides, if they wanted to pull something over, they would never have named it after the drummer in Mr. Munch’s Make Believe Band.”
“I did speak with Pasqually, though. He said he’s very excited about his new premium pizza. ‘Magnifico!’ West added. ‘My best work ever!’ He was practically giggling, and even did that chef’s kiss thing, so I can tell he’s really enthusiastic.”
CEC Entertainment, Inc., which operates Chuck E. Cheese, first addressed the Pasqually's situation back in April.
"CEC Entertainment, Inc. recently launched Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings nationwide. The inspiration was rooted in the desire to create a premium pizza while staying true to the CEC brand," a Chuck E. Cheese spokesperson told Food & Wine in a statement. "Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings, named after another favorite member of Munch's Make Believe Band, shares kitchen space with the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, ensuring high-quality, fresh ingredients. Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings’ recipes use fresh, homemade pizza dough, just like Chuck E. Cheese, but it is a different pizza that features a thicker crust and extra sauce, giving consumers a more flavorful, more premium pizza experience. While Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings recipes are currently only available for delivery, select items might be added to the Chuck E. Cheese menu in the future."
What do you think of Chuck E. Cheese's Pasqually's ordeal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!