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Eat All About It: Chuck E. Cheese’s making tracks to Kennewick

An excavator works preparing the site of a new Chuck E. Cheese pizza restaurant at 6340 W. Rio Grande Ave. When it opens next year, it will replace the existing Chuck E. Cheese on North Columbia Center Boulevard in Richland.
An excavator works preparing the site of a new Chuck E. Cheese pizza restaurant at 6340 W. Rio Grande Ave. When it opens next year, it will replace the existing Chuck E. Cheese on North Columbia Center Boulevard in Richland. Tri-City Herald

Chalk up a win for the Port of Kennewick’s vision of an urban center at the former Vista Field.

Chuck E. Cheese’s, the popular food-and-entertainment destination for families with young children, is building a new restaurant at 6340 W. Rio Grande Ave., near the Sportsman’s Warehouse on West Canal Drive.

The site is on the periphery of the former airport, which will soon be redeveloped as a mixed-use neighborhood.

The new Chuck E. Cheese opens in 2018 and will replace the existing restaurant at 2610 N. Columbia Center Blvd., on the Richland side of Highway 240. Owners Cathy and John Corbin opened the original in 1982.

The move to Kennewick was driven in part by a need to update and by the Corbins’ desire for a location with more visibility to passing vehicles. Emily Estes-Cross, economic development manager for the city of Kennewick, said the Corbins chose the new location in part to be close to the Vista Field redevelopment area.

“Vista Field has the potential to be the new downtown,” she said.

The news comes as the port and city celebrate a major milestone for Vista Field. Both have approved a master plan and development agreement.

Those approvals set the stage for the construction of utilities, roads and other infrastructure starting in 2018. By 2019, private developers will be able to begin building a mix of residential and commercial buildings.

chuck
The perennial kid-favorite Chuck E. Cheese’s is building a new restaurant in Kennewick to replace its aging location in Richland. Chuck E. Cheese’s

Chuck E. Cheese is outside the official boundary but the port welcomes the news it wants to be part of the future.

“Vista Field is not just about Vista Field. It’s about creating opportunities that will ripple throughout the region,” said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s deputy CEO.

Chuck E. Cheese is the second private entity to formally stake a claim at or near Vista Field. The Arts Center Task Force has committed to building its Vista Arts Center project there as well.

The new restaurant will be 14,458 square feet. The project is valued at $2.2 million, according to the building permit issued Dec. 5 by the city of Kennewick.

Chuck E. Cheese’s caters to families with pizza, sandwiches, wings, appetizers, a salad bar and desserts in a high-energy environment offering music, games, rides and a play area.

The Tri-Cities Chuck E. Cheese’s is a franchise of Irving, Texas-based CEC Entertainment Inc. The company is majority-owned and controlled by funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management LLC, a global equity and investment firm with $242 billion in assets under management.

As of October, there were 607 Chuck E. Cheese locations in 47 states and 13 foreign countries and territories. The vast majority, 523, are company owned. CEC Entertainment reported an $11.1 million loss on $213.3 million in revenue in the third quarter. It attributed a portion of the losses to damage related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Ugly sweater alert

Make that ugly Christmas sweater pay for itself at the Richland Krispy Kreme on Thursday.

Owner Scott Carroll said customers who wear their holiday finery will receive a dozen free doughnuts when they purchase a dozen. Krispy Kreme is at 2805 Duportail St. Hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Have dining news to share? Call me.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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