Updated: It looks like the person behind “Dumb Starbucks” has been uncovered—Comedy Central’s Nathan Fielder, who hosts a show of familiar gags called Nathan for You. Late Monday, the L.A. health department shut down the operation, and it’s unclear when it might reopen.
Original Text: “Dumb Starbucks,” which seems like an art project designed to parody the coffee mega-chain, opened its first store in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz this past weekend, and there a few things you should know. First, the logo and menu is almost identical to Starbucks, except the word “dumb” is placed in front of everything. Second, all the coffee is free. Third, they offer CDs like “Dumb Nora Jones Duet” and “Dumb Jazz Standards.”
Fourth, this is incredible. There’s an FAQ inside the store, and one of the answers states the Dumb Starbucks business model quite clearly:
“Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the ‘coffee’ you’re buying is actually the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”
Nobody has yet identified the brains behind the idea, but as of Sunday there were lines stretching down the sidewalk, and Starbucks has been unable to shut them down. Dan Harmon and Rainn Wilson were two of the celebrities who posted about the store on social media.
Here’s a picture of the menu (click to enlarge in a new window):
Obviously, the best outcome here would be for Dumb Starbucks to put normal Starbucks out of business, and then be out-maneuvered themselves by a third franchise called “Bizarre Starbucks.” We’ll keep you updated as the revelations trickle in.