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Amherst Chuck E. Cheese's is now safer, company says after 15 arrested in family brawl

Chuck E. Cheese's

The parent company of the Chuck E. Cheese's in Amherst says it has made major changes in that facility to make the place safer and more pleasant for customers - and easier for Amherst Police.

While there have been some problems in the past, what triggered the current attacks on Chuck E. Cheese's was a major brawl in April that spilled out into the parking lot at Harlem Road and Sheridan Drive in Amherst. Eventually, there were 15 arrests.

The company says it caters to a target audience of 3-8-year-olds, while the brawl was adults. COO Randy Forsythe described the brawl as a domestic fight between two families.

"Once we did a thorough investigation of the incident, along with the police, we found out it was a domestic issue," Forsythe said. "It was family-on-family that was brewing before they got there and then they weren't leaving the building before somebody said something to each other and it spilled into the hallway exit to the store."

Forsythe told the Amherst Town Board there have been significant operating changes since the brawl.

"Our cast members are 16-17-year-old-kids, right? They aren't trained to break up fights and they are not going to," he said. "What we train them to do with the conflict resolution is to look for incidents, listen for cursing, watch for behavior, poor behaviors that could result in a fight."

The company says it has done major retraining of staff members, while half of those working at the time of the fight have been replaced. The company has added another manager and more staff work hours, cut back on party size limits, improved its surveillance camera system and arranged for more Amherst Police walk-throughs.

Chuck E. Cheese's lawyer Terry Connors agrees this whole discussion revolves around the social media circulation of the adults brawling.

"No question the video is something that is stark and difficult and a terrible event, but if you were to take a video of any Buffalo Bills game on a Sunday, you would see far worse things going on there," Connors said. "What do you do? Close the stadium? Course not. You have to do the appropriate things. Train your personnel. Do the security methods. You don't shut down and close a business that has 30+ employees. You work with them."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.