Despite layoffs, KidZania working on plan to reopen Frisco location

kids pretending to be surgeons
Children simulate a surgery last November at KidZania's hospital, which is sponsored by Texas Health Resources. (Lindsey Juarez Monsivais/Community Impact Newspaper)

Children simulate a surgery last November at KidZania's hospital, which is sponsored by Texas Health Resources. (Lindsey Juarez Monsivais/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Children practice being dentists at KidZania in November 2019. (Elizabeth Ucles/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Statues line the main road inside the KidZania Dallas location at Stonebriar Centre. (Lindsey Juarez Monsivais/Community Impact Newspaper)
After being closed for more than three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, KidZania USA laid off its retail and corporate employees June 18. Despite that turnover, the management team behind the KidZania Dallas location in Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre plans to reopen at some point in the future.

“We have an amazing group of employees presented with the challenges of the current environment,” said Gregory P. Knoop, KidZania USA chief development officer. “Our actions have led to some people making the incorrect speculation that we are going out of business and closing forever. Our vision is to reopen, and that's what we're working on doing.”

Knoop said KidZania USA appointed Gevork Sarkisyan as its new chief executive officer on June 18. Sarkisyan is a partner in the company that operates KidZania franchises in the U.S., according to his LinkedIn page.

KidZania locations feature a scaled city that allows children to role-play different careers. At KidZania Dallas, children up to 14 years old can pretend to pilot airplanes, design robots and take on more than 100 other occupations. The Frisco location includes more than 50 businesses, including well-known brands such as Planet Fitness, Spotify and Pie Five Pizza.

The company started in 1999 in Mexico City and has 29 locations across the globe. KidZania opened its corporate office for all U.S. locations in Frisco in August 2019.


In November 2019, KidZania Dallas at Stonebriar Centre held a grand opening for its 85,000-square-foot facility, which is the company’s first U.S. location.

The Frisco facility closed on March 15 amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Knoop said the company’s strategy for moving forward does not include filing for bankruptcy. He said the decision to terminate employees who had been on furlough was a “very difficult” one to make.

“Nothing bad happened—it's not as if somebody did something wrong and we fired people just to fire people,” Knoop said. “We have a very, very different situation than Neiman Marcus or JCPenney, just to name two” companies that filed for bankruptcy.

He said the company’s management staff is working on a plan for the business’ next steps, and he hopes to be able to share that soon.

In addition to the location in Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, KidZania USA was in the very early stages of construction on a Chicago location and had plans for a New York location.

“At this point in time, we optimistically believe that we can still open in both Chicago and New York, but no decisions have been made,” Knoop said. “Our focus right now is [on] what we need to do to relaunch in Frisco and then resume operations in North America.”

Elizabeth Uclés contributed to this story.
By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is editor of the Frisco edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


MOST RECENT

Denton County Public Health reported on Aug. 12 the death of a Frisco man in his 80s as a result of COVID-19. (Community Impact staff)
Denton County officials confirm COVID-19-related death of Frisco man in his 80s

Frisco reported 26 new coronavirus cases in the city on Aug. 12, bringing the city's total since March to 1,001, according to the city's public health awareness dashboard.

Over 24,000 Frisco ISD students requested electronic devices, and over 200 families requested internet connectivity for the start of the fall. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
More than 24,000 Frisco ISD students request electronic devices for return to school

Of the device requests, 218 Frisco ISD families also requested internet connectivity.

Signs in the window of the Stein Mart store in Frisco state it will be among the locations closing as part of the company's liquidation process. (Valerie Wigglesworth/Community Impact Newspaper)
Stein Mart Inc. files for bankruptcy, launches store closing process

Stein Mart Inc. has 281 stores in 30 states with locations in Frisco, Plano, McKinney, Keller, Fort Worth and Flower Mound.

According to the report, 380,174 total COVID-19 cases have been reported in children nationwide as of Aug. 6, which accounts for approximately 9.1% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
REPORT: COVID-19 cases in children increase by 90% nationwide in 1 month

As school district officials across the U.S. prepare for the start of the 2020-21 school year, 179,990 new COVID-19 cases were reported in children nationwide between July 9 and Aug. 6—an increase of 90%, according to a report compiled by The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

Here are the latest real estate trends in Frisco. (Community Impact Staff)
Here are the latest real estate trends in Frisco

Frisco's 75036 ZIP code saw a 7.39% increase in the median price of homes sold in June compared to the same month last year.

The University of Texas will host football games at Darrell K. Royal Veterans Memorial Stadium this fall after an announcement from the Big 12 Conference on Aug. 12 that the fall sports season will continue. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
After Big Ten and PAC-12 cancel, Big 12 announces fall sports season will roll on

The conference football season will begin Sept. 26, and fan capacity in stadiums will be up to each of the 10 member universities, according to the Big 12.

In a record vote, commissioners unanimously voted in favor of proposing a no-new-revenue tax rate at an Aug. 11 workshop. (Screenshot via Collin County)
Collin County commissioners propose lower no-new-revenue tax rate for FY 2020-21

The proposed no-new-revenue tax rate is a nearly 1.4% decrease from the current tax rate.

Frisco Station Partners LP submitted a project for 310 urban living units and a parking garage to Frisco P&Z on July 13. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
Urban living project in the works at Frisco Station

Frisco Station Partners LP submitted a project for 310 urban living units and a parking garage to the commission in July.

Collin County Health Care Services confirmed on Aug. 11 the death of a 91-year-old Frisco man with COVID-19 and underlying health conditions. (Community Impact staff)
Collin County officials report COVID-19-related death of 91-year-old Frisco man

“We are so sad to hear about another COVID-19-related death of one of our Frisco neighbors,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said in a statement.

54th Street Grill opened in McKinney in August. (Courtesy 54th Street Grill)
54th Street Grill opens in McKinney and more DFW-area news

Read the latest community and business news from the DFW area.

Collin and Denton counties will offer different operating hours in Frisco for early voting for the Nov. 3 election. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Frisco early voting hours to differ between Collin, Denton counties for Nov. 3 election

City staff said election administrators in Collin and Denton counties would not compromise to make early voting hours consistent for all Frisco residents.

Frisco ISD leaders updated the board of trustees at an Aug. 10 meeting on what special education and special programs students can expect for the three-week virtual start and beyond for the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
What Frisco ISD’s special education, special program students can expect this fall

FISD Director of Special Education Christine Davis said students will receive a blend of synchronous and asynchronous instruction throughout each content block during the virtual start.