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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2010

Major magic not enough to keep restaurant open


After 27 years of serving up pizza and fun, the party has ended for Major Magic and his ragtag band of animatronic musicians.

Major Magic's All Star Pizza Revue restaurant in Sylvania, a survivor of the 1980s when entertainment restaurants with robotic figures, video games, and pizza were the rage, has closed because of a lack of business. Major Magic's, 5838 Monroe St., had about 15 employees, mostly part time.

The restaurant's owner, lawyer and real estate investor Burt Kalniz, said the place was filled on Saturdays with customers and birthday parties but nearly empty the rest of the week.

"It seats like 500. How can you make it on one day a week? Everybody wants just the one day, Saturday," Mr. Kalniz said. The restaurant closed last week.

Mr. Kalniz, who took over a year ago when the owners, the Haddad family of Northville, Mich., ran into financial trouble, said he tried to sell Major Magic's. But the only interest was from an entrepreneur who offered to be his partner.

"The songs [by the robotic figures] were getting old. The place was getting old, and I didn't want to put a lot of money into it," he said. "I didn't see any end to it. …" The restaurant's last update was more than 10 years ago.

In the early 1980s, entertainment restaurants blossomed after the launching of the Chuck E. Cheese chain and its imitators. At one point, Toledo had no fewer than five entertainment restaurants, all with kid-friendly mixes of pizza, video games, and animatrons who sang and danced.

But the fad died quickly and Major Magic's was the sole survivor. The industry had a small comeback in the mid-1990s and

Chuck E. Cheese, which overcame bankruptcy, opened two area stores that are still operating.

Mr. Kalniz said Major Magic's no longer could compete with other entertainment options.

"I would say all those video games kids can now play on their TVs have taken away the mystique from places like Major Magic's," he said. He said he wants to put the site up for lease.

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