Centola will Oversee the Family Entertainment Franchisor’s International Expansion
Chuck E. Cheese (CEC) Entertainment has appointed Mario Centola as executive vice president and chief operating officer of international operations and worldwide franchise development. With these dual roles, Centola will direct the family entertainment franchisor’s international growth. He has extensive experience in international development in the theme park space. As CEC Entertainment continues to grow internationally, Centola is one of several new additions to the leadership team. Adrienne Gonzalez has been tapped as the new director of international marketing.
“We are thrilled to welcome Mario and Adrienne to the CEC Entertainment team. We are confident that Mario’s experience in entertainment and business development, combined with Adrienne’s demonstrated results for international marketing innovation will help Chuck E. Cheese continue its momentum of international expansion and [help us] achieve our commitment to reach 100 global locations by 2023,” said David McKillips, president and chief executive officer of CEC Entertainment.
The Chuck E. Cheese brand is what excites Centola about these dual roles. “It is a perfect combination of entertainment and food for kids and families. The company had an opening for the international role, and I was eager to be a part of a great team focused on bringing our unique concept to more markets around the world.”
He also looks forward to working with the leadership team. “CEC Entertainment has a collection of seasoned veterans who have continued to build and refine the brand for 45 years. I am most excited about taking those learnings and ensuring they are successfully applied to our new locations around the world, living up to our motto of ‘Where a kid can be a kid.’”
Centola and International Franchising
Centola’s international work started in 2018 when he sold licensing agreements for theme parks around the world. “My favorite part of the industry is getting to meet people from all over the world and getting the opportunity to immerse in their customs and culture.” Prior to joining CEC Entertainment, Centola was the senior vice president of in-park services at Six Flags Entertainment. With this role, he was responsible for engineering, maintenance, commercial activities, and international expansion. During his two decades with Six Flags, Centola oversaw the Six Flags Qiddiya Theme Park Project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
As a franchise pro, Centola urges prospective candidates to enjoy the industry that they’re in. “Like anything in life, being passionate about what you do is important. Prior knowledge of the trade can reduce the learning curve that comes with starting any new business venture.”
For franchisors, Centola notes that communication is key to success. “We have found that continually sharing information between our CEC corporate team and our worldwide franchise group fosters innovation that makes the entire portfolio of stores more successful.”