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Pizza Time Theatre logo

Pizza Time Theatre logo

Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre was a chain of restaurants founded in 1977 by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. This was the original Chuck E. Cheese's.

HistoryEdit

Nolan Bushnell with Chuck E. Cheese

Nolan Bushnell poses with the Chuck E. Cheese walkaround character

In 1977, while working at Atari, Nolan Bushnell purchased Pizza Time Theatre from Warner Communications.

It had been created by Bushnell, originally as a place where kids could eat pizza and play video games, which would therefore function as a distribution channel for Atari games.

In 1981 Bushnell turned over day-to-day food operations of Chuck E. Cheese’s to a newly hired restaurant executive and focused on Catalyst Technologies.

During this time Bushnell was using large loans on his Pizza Time Theatre stock to fund Catalyst.

By the end of 1983, Pizza Time Theatre was having serious financial problems. President and long-time friend Joe Keenan resigned that fall. Bushnell tried to step back in, blaming the money problems on overexpansion, too much tweaking of the formula, and saturation in local markets by the management team. He resigned in February 1984, when the Board of Directors rejected his proposed changes. Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall of 1984.

ShowBiz Pizza Place, a similarly-themed competitor to Pizza Time Theatre, then purchased Pizza Time Theatre and assumed its debt. The newly formed company, ShowBiz Pizza Time, operated restaurants under both brands for a period of time before converting all Showbiz locations under the Chuck E. Cheese's brand via Concept Unification.

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