Share this article

print logo

Latest fight at Chuck E. Cheese's leaves Amherst weighing crackdown

Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said he is frustrated over the latest troubling incident at the Chuck E. Cheese's in Amherst, and town officials will consider every measure possible to rein in problems at the venue.

Kulpa said in an interview that he challenged a top Chuck E. Cheese's executive on Sunday to take significant steps to curb violence at the Harlem Road restaurant and play room, which has seen three serious incidents since March 2017.

The latest came five days after the Town Board renewed the facility's game room license. The supervisor said he's meeting Monday with the town attorney and the Amherst police chief and the town could reverse its recent approval, push the company to temporarily close the venue or ask the state Liquor Authority to revoke the venue's liquor license.

"At this point, obviously, there's going to have to be action taken in some way," Kulpa said Monday.

Officials with CEC Entertainment, the venue operator, on Monday referred The Buffalo News back to the statement the company issued in the hours following Saturday's fight between two employees.

“No guests were involved and the instigating employee was terminated immediately," the company said. "The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority and we will continue to work closely with the community to ensure a safe environment for families.”

Amherst police said a 17-year-old employee at Chuck E. Cheese's was taken to Oishei Children's Hospital after she was assaulted at work around 1 p.m. Saturday.

Police said the assailant had been fired by the restaurant but returned with two unidentified people and physically fought with a worker she had argued with, leaving the victim with bruises and abrasions to her face and head. The three suspects drove away before officers arrived, and the investigation is ongoing.

The incident came two months after a heated argument at the restaurant escalated into a physical melee involving about a half-dozen young adults. Video of the brawl was captured on a cellphone and posted to social media, where it went viral.

And it came 15 months after a Buffalo woman was slashed in the face with a box cutter in the Chuck E. Cheese's parking lot. The victim in that case has sued town police for improperly responding to a fight in the restaurant that preceded the violent confrontation outside.

The latest violence came five days after the Town Board met with CEC Entertainment representatives to lodge their concerns over safety at the venue. The same day, the Town Board renewed Chuck E. Cheese's game room license but imposed a set of conditions intended to boost security.

CEC Entertainment told board members the company already had taken steps to improve security at the venue. But Kulpa said the latest outbreak of violence shows the operator didn't go far enough.

Kulpa on Sunday talked to Rudy Rodriguez, executive vice president and chief legal and human resources officer with CEC Entertainment. He said he relayed his deep concerns about the troubles at the site and his expectations that the company will act quickly to address the situation.

Kulpa said he's worried about children getting hurt at the venue, and he said other businesses in Amherst that host kids' events don't have the same problems.

"They keep telling me, 'Well, this is akin to fights at Little League games.' Well, I don't have that many fights at Little League games. I have fights at Chuck E. Cheese. We don't have this many fights at our bars – we have fights at Chuck E. Cheese," Kulpa said.

The town doesn't control the venue's liquor license, but Kulpa said he'd like to see the state Liquor Authority pull that license because the venue shouldn't be able to sell beer and wine if it can't maintain order with its staff. The authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The supervisor also said he would like CEC Entertaiment to close the restaurant for the short term while offering enhanced training to its employees.

Kulpa said he's not sure the town could permanently, or temporarily, close Chuck E. Cheese's for violating Amherst's public nuisance law. But he does want to discuss what the town could do, including withdrawing the recent game room license renewal.

Most of the actions Kulpa is considering would require Town Board approval.

"All options are on the table," he said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment