IRVING, TX -- Large signs prohibiting "gang-type conduct or behavior" and "gang-style apparel" have been posted at about 25% of the stores in the Chuck E. Cheese's chain of more than 500 kiddie arcades and pizza restaurants, according to a CEC spokesperson. The warnings appear mainly in CEC stores located in high-crime spots, including areas of Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Harlem store in New York City, the company told the New York Post.
Over the past two years, Chuck E. Cheese's stores have received a string of negative publicity as newspapers, local TV news programs and news websites have highlighted repeated scuffles, fistfights and even an occasional brawl at various CEC outlets.
Apparently more as a preventive measure than as a response to any specific reported behavior problems, the Harlem store posted the following rules in early March: "No gang-style apparel, including but not limited to hats, shirts, buckles, bandanas, towels ... No gang-type conduct or behavior, including verbal slogans, greetings, hand signs or intimidation. No weapons or tools or any sort whatsoever; including knives, chains, screwdrivers, glass cutters."
The Post said some parents at the Harlem complained that anti-gang rules reinforced unfair stereotypes about Manhattan neighborhood. At least one patron praised CEC for being proactive and taking responsibility to ensure patrons' security. She told the paper it made her feel safer to know gangs are prohibited in the venue.