15 comments on “That’s Showbiz (Pizza Place)!

  1. I am glad you posted this. I went into the old Showbiz building in Lynchburg probably around 2002 or so, and an ice cream place had moved in. They were in the process of renovating the building, but the main stage room was still intact at that time. I pulled one of the curtains back and saw the robot mouse with no clothes on. Who knows what happened to the robots, or how long they had been sitting in that building, but they were there as late as 2002. I think the ice cream place closed down as well, so the building is empty again as far as I know.

    • Yes that building is STILL empty. Chamber of Commerce posted signs that they were moving to that site but it’s been a WHILE since that plan so I’m assuming that it was aborted, which is awesome bc I dont want them to tear down that building! It’s an original Showbiz building for the most part. The stage is still there with the background tinsel hanging. Not much was changed when the ice cream parlor was in business, which I think is awesome as well.

  2. Man, I thought I was the only person who knew about Showbiz Pizza. I grew up in Amherst, and that particular Showbiz was one of my absolute favorite places to go. We moved away in 1990, and I was surprised that no place else seemed to have one… at first I thought Chuck E Cheese was the rip-off! Sorry to hear it’s shut down, though.

  3. Glad to see this article as I lived in Lynchburg when I was a kid. It blew me away as a kid just like Hanna Barbara’s version of Kings Dominion. Both of those were highlights growing up. We moved away for a few years and visited the one in Greensboro and that is the only other SBP I have been to. I returned to Lynchburg in the late 80’s and Showbiz pizza was still there in fact I had a B-day there then. Not much had changed other than the play area with the balls you could jump in was gone and a section that use to have all table top games had been taken out. The games were more modern with some old classics mixed in. Sometime during the early 90’s the name was changed to Billy Bob’s Pizza. It still sported all the robots but the bar/sports room had been shut down and they no longer served Beer. The robots now instead of working on a program would sing by selection made on a unit in front of the stage. Rumor has it the guy who owned it or ran it refused to update the machines or put any money back into the place and it slowly went away. My guess is once it got to expensive to run the robots he shut it down. I still remember this being one of the few locations in VA to have the popular Dragons Lair game in the 80’s. It finally shutdown for good in the mid to late 90’s. One day out of curiosity I was there with my GF at the time and we stopped by to check it out. Sure enough Bill Joes Ice Cream Parlor had moved in. There were no arcade games to be seen but as mentioned above the stage area was still in tact in fact people were eating ice cream in there. Not sure what is there as of 2011 if anything. The building still exists though as you can see it off the bypass.

  4. I am for some weird reason obsessed with this place. I just stopped by there the other day to have a look around. It was really exiciting but sad at the same time. The grass was as high as my waist and someone had graffited down the side of the building. But once you got pass it being run down it was still awesome!

  5. i had my brithday frist party i was six year old at chuck e chesse pizza time theater mr munch scared me i had my partys there from 1980-1987 they closed the chuck e chesse pizza time theater in 1988 then i had partys at showbiz pizza place for two years

  6. I know this is 4 years old, but I was bored and typed “Showbiz” and “Lynchburg” in a google search and your post popped up near the top! Thought I’d fill-in some of the blanks for ya.

    The robots were in fact there when Billy Joe’s moved in. (If you will recall, Billy Joe’s used to be located on Fort Ave back in the 80s and 90s.) During the renovation, the owners, being members of TRBC, donated the robots to the church. I was there the fateful day when the tech team decided the robots were in such disrepair from having sat in a non-climate controlled building for over a decade … and everything… every stinkin’ thing … ended up in a few dumpsters. EVERYTHING! I assume the remnants of the animatronic show exist somewhere in the Lynchburg Landfill… where they will sit for all eternity as I’m pretty sure the robots are not biodegradable. Haha.

    By the time Billy Joe’s finished the renovations, the stages were used (recarpeted of course, but with the same curtains and new headers) for bands. I played keys in a band that performed there once and my rig was set-up right where Rolfe and Earl once stood! I have to say, as an 80s kid and a Showbiz fan, it was pretty cool playing from that stage.

    A strange thing about this store was that it went through the process of Concept Unification, and the mechs were all converted to Chuck E. Cheese in the early 1990s. But, just a few years later, the store ended its franchise with CEC and became “Billy Bob’s Pizza” Yup… the store re-converted the mechs back to the Rock-afire Explosion! To my knowledge, I don’t think any other show went through the process of CU and then transitioned back to RAE.

    The building was donated to Liberty University a few years ago who sold it last year. It was purchased by the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce who plans to spend $3million converting it to their new headquarters.

  7. Another google search led me back here again, 4 years later. lol. Jessica, no. I didn’t take pictures. At the time (I think it was 2001), this was before the resurgence of the RAE. No one saw any value in them, including myself. It was my boss who was calling the shots. I don’t think he was even really interested in it in the first place, we just went to look at them as a courtesy of a member who thought the church could use them. In my opinion, knowing what I know now about the robots, I believe the mechs themselves were probably fine. The masks were completely dry rotted and brittle, as were the airlines. The costumes and fur covered in spiderwebs and dust. Some new cosmetics and new hoses, oiling the mechs, I bet they could have been brought back to life. If memory serves, I believe the mechs and computer were trashed. Everything under the stage (mac valves, etc) were left and I believe are still there today!

    Yes, the Chamber merged with Region 2000 and together have bought the old James River Conference Center as their new home. The old Showbiz Pizza building was conveyed to First National Bank as part of the financing of the JRCC property and the bank plans to sell the property for redevelopment. This will most likely result in demolition of the building and probably another hotel going up in its place. The building really is in bad shape. When it was Billy Joe’s Ice Cream, most of my friends worked there (and I sometimes helped out, but never officially worked there) so I spent a lot of time there and even then the building had leaks and damage from not being well cared for. That was 10 years ago. I imagine after yet another decade of sitting empty and unmaintained it’s in even worse shape now. Graffiti is all over the sides of the building. This was the building back in 2012 (https://www.google.com/maps/@37.3703503,-79.1765357,3a,75y,299.21h,71.88t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sMr0d7JjLPAJkDibmOsjCww!2e0!7i13312!8i6656)

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