Chuck E. Cheese’s abruptly and without explanation moved its equipment out of its Midtown Fort Collins location this week.
On Friday, four large roll-off containers for trash lined the front of the store. The store was locked and only one employee remained inside. He referred all questions to the pizza and gaming chain’s corporate office.
The restaurant, a popular spot for children’s birthday parties, had two months left on its lease, building owner Les Kaplan said.
Calls to the store and its real estate representative were not immediately returned.
“It was news to me they’re leaving,” said Kaplan, who plans to redevelop the property. “It’s not because they were asked to leave.”
Kaplan owns numerous properties across Fort Collins, including the 1300 Riverside Ave. building that leases space to the Coloradoan and other unaffiliated businesses.
In November, Kaplan extended Chuck E. Cheese’s lease for six months at the restaurant’s request, he said. “It’s a surprise to me they are physically leaving the property without any notification to me.”
It is unclear whether the store decided to cut its losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, or if it found a new location in Fort Collins. The restaurant has been closed during the coronavirus crisis except for takeout or delivery. Its website on Friday said the store was permanently closed.
In September, Chuck E. Cheese’s, owned by CEC Entertainment Inc. of Irving, Texas, was looking for a new Fort Collins location, according to Tony Bowen, CEC Entertainment’s director of real estate. He said the company’s goal was to stay in Fort Collins.
“The retail market is tight but we are working hard to find a new location that meets our corporate standards,” Bowen told the Coloradoan at the time. The company was considering buildings of at least 10,000 square feet or land parcels between 1.7 and 2 acres on College Avenue, Mulberry Street, Harmony Road or along Interstate 25.
The restaurant would have had to move this summer to make way for a planned hotel development.
Kaplan is teaming with Saunders Development and Fort Collins developer Stu MacMillan to build a six-story, 149-room hotel at 105 W. Prospect Road, just south of Prospect’s intersection with College Avenue.
The hotel, to be a branded Marriott, replaces Chuck E. Cheese’s and Fort Collins Furniture and Mattress.
Demolition could begin this summer.
The property, on the southeastern edge of the Colorado State University campus, is within walking distance of downtown or Canvas Stadium and is adjacent to the MAX bus line that can take riders south to Harmony Road or north to Old Town. It is on the northern edge of what is considered Midtown.