Every day, guests around the world gather at family entertainment leader Chuck E. Cheese’s stores to celebrate birthdays, special occasions, and family fun days with pizza, games, and prizes.

This year, families in Panama will get to experience the Chuck E. Cheese’s brand for the very first time now that the country’s first franchised store is open in Panama City, Panama.

The location opened April 4 as part of a multi-year plan to bring several new stores to Central America.

“Chuck E. Cheese’s is very excited to pair with great business partners to create franchise opportunities all over the world,” says Roger Cardinale, president of CEC Entertainment’s international division.

“The store opening in Panama is the latest example of how we strive to create investment opportunities that are not only beneficial for our partners, but also for the communities where our international stores are located,” he adds. “We want families from Detroit to Panama City to know the joy of a Chuck E. Cheese’s experience.”

Take for example the preferred developer in Panama, Juan Carlos Sosa, who has been working with Chuck E. Cheese’s for the past year on franchise plans.

“Guests can expect to see the same value-priced meals, family games, and safe and clean environment in Panama that the Chuck E. Cheese’s brand has delivered for years in the U.S. and Canada,” Sosa says. “In addition, because we are working with local manufacturers and vendors, the commitment to the Panama City community is very strong, which makes this a great business partnership.” 

While the new Panama store is the first franchised Chuck E. Cheese’s to open in the country, it’s not the first international store to represent the family entertainment brand.

CEC Entertainment, the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese’s, has been developing prosperous international franchise opportunities in Latin America, South America, and the Middle East since 1986.

There are 17 international franchise locations, including Panama City, in operation today. However, in 2011 CEC Entertainment, reworked and updated its franchise plan to help business partners work with the company’s established development teams, implement successful business models, and use additional Chuck E. Cheese’s games, creative content, and branding material.

The revamped plan was a hit, and the company signed a record six agreements in 2012 to open 39 international stores in the next six years. 

Part of the brand’s international success can be attributed to the family entertainment leader encouraging franchise owners to create connections with area manufacturers and vendors, which allow the owner to keep business inside the community.

In addition, business partners can modify their menu offerings to fit the local taste, culture, and traditions.

For Chuck E. Cheese’s franchise owners Kristine Thompson and Joanna Rostant, this meant they could bring the world-famous Chuck E. Cheese’s brand to Trinidad.

“We are thrilled to be opening several Chuck E. Cheese’s stores in Trinidad in the next few years,” Thompson says. “As female investors, Chuck E. Cheese’s is a brand we can trust to enhance the positive family entertainment environment in our country.” 

CEC Entertainment is committed to continued international growth in 2013 and beyond. 

In February, Cardinale was named president of CEC Entertainment’s international division of Chuck E. Cheese’s. Since joining CEC Entertainment in November 1986, Cardinale has managed the family entertainment leader’s purchasing, real estate, construction, and gaming efforts.

In his new role as international president, Cardinale will focus on driving the brand’s international development by adding new stores around the globe with a specific emphasis on Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Chuck E. Cheese