This Once-Popular Food and Entertainment Chain Just Shut Down Its Final Locations

After more than two decades in business, which were riddled with several bankruptcies and major 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 outlets.

GameWorks venues were dotted across Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco (although that location went by the name Tabletop Tap House) and provided on-site gaming in the vein of larger arcade-and-food competitors like Dave&Buster’s. Offering bowling, billiards, and arcade games since 1997, as well as a full menu and bar, the chain was once a popular destination for indoor entertainment and on-premise dining. But its business was effectively obliterated by the pandemic when it was forced to cease operations at all its venues for months.

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But the chain had been struggling 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 unrivaled gaming destination with hundreds of game options and a fun, competitive atmosphere for guests. At the time of its launch, Steven Spielberg, who was creatively involved with the concept, said: “GameWorks is about fun, excitement, competition and bringing people together. It is also about escape, adventure, and connecting. It gives each person a chance to prove he or she is a star.”

But only four years later, DreamWorks bowed out of the venture and sold its portion of the chain. In 2004, it filed for its first bankruptcy and became fully owned by Sega. After changing ownership several more times and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy again in 2010, the chain never really regained its footing. According to FSR Magazine, its 2020 IPO filing showed it had been on a downward spiral since 2017, losing a total of $28.9 million in the three-year period. The pandemic was simply the last straw for the chain that once wanted to be the adult Chuck E Cheese. At the height of its popularity, GameWorks had 15 locations.

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