Kendall Neff thought she was supporting a local small business when she and her husband ordered food Saturday evening.
The pizza shop, listed on Grubhub as Pasqually's Pizza & Wings, seemed independent at first. Its menu offers those items and little else besides a "cookie pizza" and canned sodas.
The Oaks, Pennsylvania, resident was preparing for another night in and something cheesy, and her husband was craving wings. On first glance, they assumed the restaurant, with no reviews at the time, was a small business trying to weather the coronavirus pandemic, and they wanted to support it.
It turns out, the Grubhub listing was for a "virtual restaurant" operated from the Chuck E. Cheese in Berwyn. "Pasqually" is the pizza-making character in the franchise's lore and animatronics shows, according to the Chuck E. Cheese wiki.
“It’s just funny that my reasoning for choosing this place as being a small business that needed our help, kind of backfired," Neff said.
On the r/Philadelphia subreddit, she posted a text exchange with her delivery driver, who confirmed he picked up the "Pasqually's" order at the Chuck E. Cheese. Neff also provided a receipt showing Pasqually's address as 270 Swedesford Road - the same address as the Berwyn Chuck E. Cheese, which also has a GrubHub page.
The wings were nothing to write home about. The pizza? They're not picky, though "if someone was real snobby they might not be happy with it," Neff said.
"It is automatically better tasting when surrounded by tokens and tickets," she said in a text later. Unfortunately, Pasqually's online menu doesn't offer the option to order a pizza box that turns into a mini skee-ball game - Chuck E. Cheese does.
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Delivery services have seen a spike in traffic during the lockdown and stay-at-home orders. Grocery services in particular have struggled to keep up with demand, according to previous reports.
And a New York Times report from last year detailed the rise of "virtual restaurants" that may use the same kitchen as a known eatery but have a different menu. Apps like Uber Eats and Grubhub may list restaurants whose only space is a kitchen, which might be shared with other listings on the app.
In our area, there are also Pasqually's locations with addresses that match Chuck E. Cheese spots in South Philadelphia and in Deptford, New Jersey.
"Had we not been quarantined and so bored we may not have gotten to the bottom of that," Neff said. "The main difference in this scenario, is I was being mindful of going out of my way to find a local business."
Chuck E. Cheese is not alone in having multiple businesses listed for one location. For example, the Philadelphia addresses for GrubHub restaurant "Rotisserie Roast," which offers rotisserie chicken and sides like mac and cheese, match up with the addresses of Boston Markets in the city.
For Neff and her husband, the delivery services have helped them stay safe during the pandemic, as they are at home with their 25-week-old daughter Millie, who was born unexpectedly on Halloween. After the surprise delivery 11 weeks early, and two months in the NICU, she's been home with her parents. Millie is immunocompromised, though she's doing well since she's been home. But the Neffs want to be extra careful.
"Things like contactless delivery on GrubHub have been a godsend so we don't have to leave the house but can have some semblance of normal life," she said.
"In a year or so we will be taking Millie to Chuck E. Cheese to experience all the excitement we had with the place growing up," Neff added. "But rest assured I will be having a chat with Pasqually while we are there."