This once-popular food and entertainment chain has just closed its last locations – don’t eat this that

After more than two decades in business, which has been marked by several bankruptcies and large losses, the entertainment chain GameWorks has thrown in the towel and announced the closure of its six remaining locations. The news was posted on the company’s website and social media accounts on Christmas Eve, according to several industry associations.

GameWorks locations were scattered throughout Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco (although that location was named Tabletop Tap House) and offered on-site gaming along the lines of larger arcade-and-food competitors like Dave & Buster’s. The chain has been offering bowling, billiards and arcade games as well as a full menu and bar since 1997, and was once a popular destination for indoor entertainment and on-premise dining. But the company was effectively destroyed by the pandemic when it had to cease operations at all of its locations for months.

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But the chain had it long before March 2020 rolled around. It was founded in 1996 as a joint venture between the gaming company Sega and animation studio DreamWorks, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures. The idea was to create an unparalleled gaming destination with hundreds of game options and a fun, competitive atmosphere for the guests. Speaking at the launch, Steven Spielberg, who was creatively involved with the concept, said: “GameWorks is about fun, excitement, competition and bringing people together. It’s also about escape, adventure and connecting. It gives every person a chance to prove that he or she is a star.”

But just four years later, DreamWorks exited the company and sold its part of the chain. In 2004, it filed for its first bankruptcy and became wholly owned by Sega. After changing hands several more times and filing for another Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, the chain never really took off. According to FSR Magazine, its 2020 IPO filing showed it had been in a tailspin since 2017, losing a total of $28.9 million over the three-year period. The pandemic was just the last straw for the chain that ever wanted to be the adult Chuck E Cheese. At the height of its popularity, GameWorks had 15 locations.

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