2ND UPDATE, 5:50 PM: Los Angeles County health officials shut down the Dumb Starbucks operation late Monday afternoon for “operating without a valid public health permit” following company “President” Nathan Fielder’s revealing news conference today. “Employees” on site say they have no idea when it will reopen.
PREVIOUS UPDATE, 4:15 PM: Comedy Central‘s Nathan Fielder is the mastermind behind the pop up art installation/social experiment slash TV stunt known as Dumb Starbucks. “I’m proud to announce we’ll be opening our second Starbucks in Brooklyn, New York soon… This really caught on so I’m going to ride it out,” he announced today. Fielder’s Nathan For You docu-reality series debuted last year on Comedy Central with the Canadian comedian frequently setting up similar real life hoaxes and gags in the public. In today’s media scrum he acknowledged that since Dumb Starbucks currently lacks health permits “legally speaking, we are operating as an art gallery.” One production design expert tells us the signage and materials used to create Dumb Starbucks’ elaborate environment might have cost as much as $30K. Today’s line was still out the door, and the media attention drew officers from the LA County Health Department who were seen barreling into the store shortly before the afternoon press conference. A film crew has been shooting at the location and filmed today’s press conference. Season 2 of Nathan For You was greenlit last April and airs in 2014.
A video in which Fielder argues the legality of Dumb Starbucks under existing parody law has emerged on YouTube:
PREVIOUS, 3:54 PM: The mystery of “Dumb Starbucks” that’s had L.A. in caffeinated confusion may finally be solved. The parody coffee shop which popped up over the weekend in Los Feliz has attracted a nonstop stream of curious customers lining up for free cups of “dumb” coffee since appearing with zero fanfare days ago. According to the AP, filming permit records obtained Monday show that the location is tied to Abso Lutely Productions, the comedy production company run by Tim & Eric duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie). Abso Lutely also produces the Nathan Fielder comedy show Nathan For You, which has been speculated to be behind the stunt. The cafe, decked out in near-replica Starbucks decor, has been handing out free coffee drinks and pastries to “customers” who’ve flocked to the location in droves – despite not knowing exactly why Dumb Starbucks exists in the first place.
In three days a Twitter feed for Dumb Starbucks has amassed over 8K followers. Even Universal got in on the mania on their Dumb & Dumber To Facebook page. A presser is scheduled to be held today at 4 PM.