This is pretty incredible, any way you slice it.
But apparently the kid-friendly eatery isn’t exactly anyone’s first choice to satisfy their ’za craving, because the brand seemingly worked up a tricky plan to get customers to order from its restaurants.
Enter Pasqually’s, a restaurant listed on Grubhub that sells pizza and wings and features a logo devoid of one Charles Entertainment Cheese, the chain’s mousy mascot ― yet shares an address with the children’s entertainment center.
Philadelphia resident Kendall Neff, who goes by kendallneff on Reddit, shared a text message exchange with a driver from the food delivery site last month after becoming suspicious of an order.
“Just curious ... was this food from Chuck E. Cheese?” she asked, a question that, among all the questions we have during this time, we never expected to see. Neff told HuffPost she thought it was a small business that had joined Grubhub to do more business doing the quarantine, and wasn’t that concerned when she didn’t see any reviews.
“There were a ton of restaurants recently added to our delivery zone,” Neff said. “After I placed the order I decided to Google the restaurant to see reviews there, but nothing with that name came up in my search. I was intrigued and had my husband search the address in Google Maps ― to our surprise there was no Pasqually’s there, but there was a Chuck E. Cheese.”
Then, as anyone would be inclined to do, Neff’s husband googled “Chuck E. Cheese Pasqually.”
“He said, ‘Guess what? Pasqually is the name of the animatronic chef that’s in the Chuck E. Cheese stage band!’” she said.
Furthermore, according to the driver in the exchange, the food was picked up from a Chuck E. Cheese location that had the Pasqually’s logo on the windows.
It’s a far less egregious pizza-related crime than the one the chain was accused of by YouTuber Shane Dawson in 2019. He alleged that it recycled leftover pizza in its pies. Chuck E. Cheese denied the allegations.
This time, the proof seems to be in the pepperoni. There are various “Pasqually’s” listed on the Grubhub website, each sharing an address with a Chuck E. Cheese. Food & Wine confirms that the name Pasqually belongs to the “fictional chef in the Chuck E. Cheese universe.”
In a statement to HuffPost, the big cheese in charge, or, rather, a Chuck E. Cheese representative, explained that Pasqually’s is in fact a brand new venture, not just a ploy to shill its usual grub.
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. 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, extra sauce and new blends of cheeses and seasonings, giving consumers a more flavorful, more premium pizza experience. This new brand is the latest example of CEC entertainment creatively adjusting to meet the needs of consumers in a unique way, allowing for more variety and convenient options for delivery.
Needless to say, not everyone on the internet is convinced.
Neff said she and her husband weren’t mad about getting duped, but rather thought it was funny that the chain had gone to such great lengths to offer delivery when Chuck E. Cheese itself already has a page on the site.
She said she was a bit disappointed that her local efforts did not help a small business, and that it was in fact the same Chuck E. Cheese pizza she remembers eating before, but that she and her family “ate the pizza happily” even though it was a “little less delicious eating it in my living room rather than in all the excitement of the games and music at Chuck E. Cheese.”
Neff doesn’t have plans to order from Pasqually’s again, and if she does, she’ll get it from Chuck E. Cheese itself. “At least that pizza comes with tickets and prizes!” she said.
Grubhub did not return a request for comment at the time of publication, however the online ordering platform actually encourages restaurants to create “virtual restaurants” on its own blog:
Food delivery is predicted to account for 40% of total restaurant sales by 2020, and has become what one restaurant analyst refers to as a “driving force in the restaurant industry.” One way restaurants are responding to this rapidly growing demand for food delivery is with a relatively new type of food service: virtual restaurants. ... They are delivery-only operations that accept orders solely online — through apps and websites like Grubhub. With no need for a brick and mortar location, the “restaurant” only exists online.
But in the blog post, Grubhub describes the spirit of virtual restaurants as one that encourages restaurants to “experiment with a new menu concept, brand a subset of existing menu items, or capture unmet customer demands for particular food in the market” — not sell very similar pizza, which is likely why Pasqually’s statement pushes so hard to insist Pasqually’s pizza is “different” from Chuck E. Cheese’s.
But hey, we have to hand the chain credit for its creativity. It’s a rat race out there.