We’re now open for business! Visit us at 1802 Hillhurst Ave in Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/WnVefrYM9b
— Dumb Starbucks (@dumbstarbucks) February 7, 2014
When we first heard that a parody coffee shop named ‘Dumb Starbucks’ had popped up in LA, we figured that the masterminds behind the operation probably were not the biggest fans of Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) coffee. Makes sense, right? But as it turns out, Dumb Starbucks executives actually don’t hate the ubiquitous cafe. Instead, they maintained Monday, “We love Starbucks and look up to them as role models. Unfortunately, the only way to use their intellectual property under fair use is if we are making fun of them. So the ‘dumb’ comes out necessity, not enmity.”
Oh. Well, that clears some things up, but certainly not all of it. Luckily, USA Today got the inside scoop. The publication reported Tuesday that it is actually Comedy Central comic Nathan Fielder who is the man behind the pop-up Starbucks parody, and after significant heckling from reporters Monday afternoon, the comedian admitted that he opened up Dumb Starbucks to shoot segments for his Comedy Central reality show series, Nathan For You.
The owner of Dumb Starbucks will be making an in person announcement at our store (1802 Hillhurst Ave) today at 4pm. All are welcome!
— Dumb Starbucks (@dumbstarbucks) February 10, 2014
Though Fielder eventually came clean about the real purpose behind the Dumb Starbucks operation, it was still hard for reporters to get a straight answer from the comedian Monday, and at one point he claimed he was going to open a second Dumb Starbucks in Brooklyn next week, while hoping to keep the LA location “open forever.”
It sounds like a dream, but one the Los Angeles Health Department quickly interrupted Monday when they arrived on the Dumb Starbucks scene and told employees to stop serving coffee. Health officials closed Dumb Starbucks for operating without a permit, and many consumers were forced to go home empty-handed, without their Dumb Espressos.
‘Twas a shame, but still not necessarily one that no one saw coming. Quickly after the fanfare surrounding Dumb Starbucks grew earlier this week, onlookers questioned how long Dumb Starbucks could avoid legal action from its inspiration, Starbucks, and whether health officials would really let the Dumb Starbucks show go on. The company gave away free coffee this past weekend in Los Angeles, and according to tweets, people waited up to an hour for their free caffeine.
Though Starbucks representatives didn’t seem particularly amused by the stunt Monday, with one spokesperson saying via USA Today, “While we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” LA residents seemed to respond to the operation well, and the store was swarmed by coffee drinkers for days, especially Monday when the numbers reached 300. From Dumb Starbucks’s FAQ sheet it was clear that the executives behind the operation were interesting in creating “a work of parody art” rather than a full-out Starbucks rival, but now, the LA Health Department has officially shut down artist Nathan Fielder, and it is clear that he’ll have to obtain a permit if he wants to continue brewing any more dumb coffee.