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Monday, April 16, 2018

Chuck E. Cheese's (yes, really)

A reader recently asked if I'd tried Chuck E. Cheese's new pizza menu. I will confess that I hadn't been keeping up with CEC's latest developments. Shame on me.

But I did recall seeing a story that they are trying to do more to attract an older crowd, or at least make the whole experience more tolerable for parents.

So I was intrigued enough to go, with my wife and teenage daughter, last Sunday to the CEC on Hylan Drive in Henrietta.

After passing through security, we went up to the counter. We opted for the #1 (Large) deal, which, for 35 bucks, gets you one large pizza, four soft drinks (there were only three of us, but it was still cheaper that way, I think, than a la carte) and 30 minutes of unlimited games. I ordered a "Thin & Crispy" pepperoni pizza. I noticed it's not available in a medium size, which leads me to believe the crusts are pre-made. But that hardly came as a shock.

I guess this qualifies as "fast casual," since we took a number and the food was delivered to our table. It took longer than I expected, 20 minutes, maybe, but when it arrived, well, the pizza wasn't bad  I'm not saying it was all that great, but it wasn't bad.

Now I should mention here that I was quite hungry. It was about 1 p.m. and I hadn't eaten since the night before. And my expectations were low.  But I tried to take an objective view of the pizza, and I didn't have much cause for complaint.

The underside was a little crisp, with some screen marks. Not crackly, but firm, with a chewy interior. The cheese was browned and somewhere between chewy and gooey. Pepperoni was average, sauce a bit sweet.

My biggest complaint was the saltiness. I'm something of a salt fiend, but this was too much for me, at least in some areas. I (and my daughter backed me up on this) got the impression that they dusted the whole thing with garlic salt at some point, with some spots getting way too much. Not so much as to make it inedible, but please leave the garlic powder and salt to me. Still, I have to admit, not bad in general.

As to non-pizza stuff: I noticed they do carry beer and wine, although I'm not sure if imbibing would make it more or less easy to deal with a bunch of screaming kids. I stuck with Diet Pepsi (they had caffeine-free, which I appreciated). The salad bar comprised fairly standard stuff, but looked pretty good, as salad bars go. The sneeze screen was too high to block kids' expectorants, but I doubt kids will be using it much anyway.

Once we finished our pizza, we moved on to the games. Our card's clock starting running with our first game, so we had 30 minutes to get in as much as we could.

I can recall going to a CEC a long time ago when a main attraction was the animatronic band that would come out and "play" music every so many minutes. This location had some vastly scaled down version of that way in the back, a nod to their past, I guess, but most of the entertainment space was taken up by games.

Many of those were clearly aimed at little kids. I was disappointed that they didn't have an air hockey table except for one that was so small, I would've felt embarrassed to be seen using it, unless I were purposely losing to a toddler at the other end. I did have some fun on the basketball free-throw game, but most of the games were aimed at the kiddie set.

I've wondered before why some of these arcades aren't regulated as gambling parlors, because with each game you get tickets, which are redeemable for cash. After this, I think I figured out why. After getting our fill of  skill-based games, we ended up on a game where you just hit a button and it spits out tickets. Kind of like a slot machine.  We walked  away with a boatload of tickets, which got us one small bag of cotton candy, for which we had to pay an extra 20 cents.  So that's why it's not like a casino. No matter what, or how well you do, you'll never walk away with more than you came in with, monetarily.

So was it worth it?  I guess. The three of us got a reasonably good pizza, some soft drinks, and 30 minutes of games, for 35 bucks. I won't be back soon, but honestly, the pizza was OK. Maybe that's damning with faint praise, but that's about it. It was better than I expected. I'll leave it at that.

Chuck E. Cheese's
1000 Hylan Drive (Jay Scutti Plaza)
Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 11 - 10, Sat. 10 - 10
(585) 292-6380


  1. Great review..I miss Chuck e cheese from my childhood. As I am an adult with no kids I don't think I will ever return..(I don't even think they let child-less adults in, which is a good thing.) Anyways one of my favorite things was their pizza. Do they still do the old recipe in addition to this new one?

  2. They still had regular pizza, which I assume is the same as before. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I really don't like to review places unless I've been there a few times. With that being said I have been to this Chuck E. Cheese probably seven or eight times so far.

    I'm sure if you're a 90s kid like me we all grew up with the Chuck E. Cheese's of our past which were very dim dirty and still fun but dim and dirty lol. I will say Chuck E Cheese has completely turn themselves around and made this place amazing.