Restaurants across the country have tried innovative ways to keep business going amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some, like Subway and Panera, have started offering groceries. Many more have pivoted their dine-in business to delivery or takeout only. And several famous haunts are even offering DIY meal kits so food fans can whip up dishes from their favorite restaurants at home.
But it appears that some eateries have taken a different tactic and totally rebranded themselves to serve diners stuck at home. Recently, some eagle-eyed delivery app users thought they were ordering pizza and wings from a new local spot — but were shocked to find that the food was all from a Chuck E. Cheese.
About a month ago, a Philadelphia-based Reddit user posted that they had ordered food from a spot called Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. When the order arrived, however, something seemed fishy ... or rather, familiarly cheesy.
"Just curious was this food from Chuck E. Cheese?" the Reddit user allegedly texted her Grubhub driver.
The delivery driver reportedly replied: “There was the Chuck E. Cheese store, but the windows had wing restaurant on them? I was confused, too!”
Further complicating things, there is actually a different Pasqually's Pizza located in West Philadelphia.
Others on social media said they noticed a similar phenomenon in their hometowns.
I live a mile from a Chuck E Cheese and can verify there are both a "Pasqually's Pizza and Wings" and "Chuck E Cheese" on my grubhub. They ~conveniently~ share an address. https://t.co/QClNxyoCbA— ✨emily d'internet✨ (@emilyherself) May 18, 2020
was i really gonna find out from a tweet that chuck e. cheese is getting people to order their food by going under an alias company name on delivery apps such as grubhub? pAsQuAlLy’S pic.twitter.com/0BbKVQR5In— brooke (@DearBrookeBryan) May 18, 2020
oh it’s even simpler, they’re listed at the same address on Grubhub. pic.twitter.com/M8nMb8CrmQ— David Pontious (@DavidPontious) May 18, 2020
A lot of people are simply finding the whole situation pretty funny regardless.
Chuck E. Cheese masquerading as ~𝒫𝒶𝓈𝓆𝓊𝒶𝓁𝓁𝓎'𝓈 𝒫𝒾𝓏𝓏𝒶~ reminds me of the episode on The IT Crowd where Moss recommends Jen and Roy take their dates to ~𝑀𝑒𝓈𝓈𝒾𝑔𝒾𝑜'𝓈~ when I fact, it turned out to be Messy Joe’s— Nicole (@nicolexavier111) May 18, 2020
So what's real deal behind this new pizza spot?
Since April, dozens of Grubhub listings for Pasqually's have been popping up on third-party delivery apps in the Midwest, the South and even in California. They all share an address with a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.
"CEC Entertainment, Inc. recently launched Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings nationwide," a representative for Chuck E. Cheese confirmed to TODAY Food by email. "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."
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The rep elaborated that pizzas from the two restaurants use the same basic ingredients but Pasqually’s pizza "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 available for delivery," the rep's statement continued.
Chuck E. Cheese isn't the only eatery getting in on the rebranding action via food delivery apps. Social media users have also been reporting that various Applebee's locations have been delivering under the name Neighborhood Wings.
The Applebees in my town changed their name to Neighborhood Wings.— Jerry holden (@Jerrific3) May 18, 2020
Ok @Grubhub why is there a restaurant called "Neighborhood Wings" on your platform with the same address as @Applebees ? Why are you lying to me about where my food comes from? Applebees is listed separately. If I wanted their shitty food, I'd order it. Also, no wings on the menu pic.twitter.com/aDchWrdyZg— Mulva (@Mulva70830538) May 11, 2020
OMG! @Applebees has another restaurant on @Grubhub called Neighborhood Wings!!!! Ahhhhhhhh. My world is falling apart! How is this possible?!?! 😂😂😂— Sandwich University® 🔶 (@SandwichUWV) May 7, 2020
Open at 4pm! U know the drill. Milkshake Specials on deck.
New Loyalty program should be live. Check it out via the App.
Scott Gladstone, vice president of Applebee's strategy and development, confirmed that Neighborhood Wings is, in fact, another way to be eatin' good in the neighborhood these days.
"At Applebee's restaurants, wings are a top selling menu item," Gladstone told TODAY in an email. "We launched Neighborhood Wings by Applebee's on GrubHub to make it even easier for guests to get their wings fix and to give us the opportunity to test out new items made for wing lovers that aren't on our main menu."
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According to Gladstone, certain items, such as Applebee's Honey Pepper wings, are only available in larger quantities (orders of up to 60 wings) via Neighborhood Wings, not through traditional Applebee's locations. "As we continue to learn from this brand extension, we will be introducing additional innovation to meet our guests' demands," said Gladstone.
The pandemic has been an especially rough time for the restaurant industry as most eateries across the country were forced to close their doors except for delivery and takeout. Some have even been forced to shutter for good. Earlier this month, the company that owned Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes buffet chains announced it would be closing all locations permanently. John Haywood, the CEO, said in an interview with TODAY, that it all came down to the fact that the restaurant industry is undergoing a massive shift.
Haywood predicted that arcade-like restaurants that cater to large parties, such as Dave & Busters or Chuck E. Cheese, may also see problems. "I think it's going to be difficult for anything like that to return," he said.
As of this week, only three U.S. locations have fully reopened for business, but a Chuck E. Cheese spokesperson for the chain said the pizza-entertainment eatery has already rolled out a list of changes customers can expect to see during their next visit.
"We have instituted new protocols to provide a safe environment for our guests that follow national, state and local health guidelines such as enforcing social distancing, limiting capacity, increasing cleaning procedures and frequency and requiring employees and recommending guests to wear masks," the spokesperson said.
For example, "Chuck E. is resting until he feels ready to get back out on the dance floor," the spokesperson added. Birthday parties will no longer be held during normal business hours, either. Instead, parties will be available by private reservation during special hours.
All restaurants will be enacting the following measures during their initial reopening phase (which will vary by state):
- Touch-less temperature checks will be required for all employees and guests.
- Each guest will be required to use hand sanitizer upon entering and multiple hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the dining and gaming room areas.
- Instead of using a hand stamp at Kid Check, the restaurant will ask each guest to take a “Kid Check Selfie” to make sure parties that come together, leave together.
- Cleaning of games, restrooms and dining areas will be completed every 30 minutes.
The spokesperson would not confirm whether Pasqually's branded pizza will disappear once brick-and-mortar Chuck E. Cheese restaurants start to reopen on a larger scale, but the name is actually a dead giveaway to any true fan of the pizza-loving mouse.
Pasqually is simply a different version of the more traditional Italian name Pasquale, who just happens to be the beloved Italian chef that took Chuck E. under his wing and then, somehow, became the drummer in the mouse's Munch's Make-Believe Band.