Just a little bit outside of town is one of the best pizza joints in the country. Their eclectic décor, family friendly environment, and cheesy pizzas have kept them in business for many years. It’s a bit of a trek for most people, but the trip is worth it for one of the most unique experiences in the area. I am of course, talking about Chuck E. Cheese, located at 3500 SW College Road in Ocala.
Founded by Charles “Chuck” E. Cheese, the restaurant is an experience in itself and has been a local favorite for decades now. I’ve always found that food tastes better when there is an increased chance of contracting tetanus. On the menu are their famous pizzas as well as a variety of salads if you’re looking to eat a little healthier. The BBQ Chicken pizza (BBQ chicken on pizza) is an absolute must try. If someone in your family has decided they are now gluten intolerant, there are gluten-free options available so you don’t have to listen to them complain about headaches or that they feel “more bloated and less healthy”.
While the pizzas are ok, you have to try the salads. The garden-fresh salad bar offers a selection of over 40 items that include fresh cut vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses, plus pasta salads, dressings, croutons and other toppers. This wide variety is freshly delivered by a locally owned Sysco distribution center every other day. Other items on the menu include Chicken Nuggets (nuggets of chicken), Buffalo Wings (wings of a buffalo), and Cheesy Breadsticks (bread in the shape of sticks that are cheesy).
But where Chuck E. Cheese really shines is in the experience. There is plenty to see and do before and after your meal. Want to climb through plastic tubing and jump into a ball pit? You can do it. Race your friend through the streets of California? Why not? Beat up little moles when they pop up to attack you? You betcha! You can even eat your pizza inside of the ball pit if you wanted to, but it’s evidently highly frowned upon. Best of all, each experience earns vouchers that can then be spent on a variety of plastic treasures, untainted by oppressive American manufacturing processes, at their in-house store. They have everything there!
Through it all, Chuck has never lost sight of his vision. He makes daily appearances in the restaurant, greeting his patrons, taking photos, and performing in a band with several of his friends and this weird mustached guy that no one could ever really figure out. As a philanthropist, Chuck has raised over $10 million dollars through fundraising events for schools and educational organizations. While the pizza may not be very good and the service can be subpar, he makes up for it with a big heart.
But the experience alone makes this a worthwhile destination where you should take all of your friends, both young and old. It really is all about the experiences you experience during the experience. I would definitely check out Chuck E. Cheese for the experience.