New LA Coffee Shop: 'Dumb Starbucks'

No one's really sure what's going on at Los Feliz storefront

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 10, 2014 8:55 AM CST
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(Newser) – Well, this is strange: A new coffee shop calling itself "Dumb Starbucks" has opened in a Los Angeles neighborhood. "Dumb Starbucks" uses the Starbucks logo and Starbucks beverage names, just with "dumb" attached to every name—so Dumb Caramel Macchiato, Dumb Frappuccino, etc. There are even CDs displayed on the counter with names like Dumb Jazz Standards and Dumb Nora Jones Duets (yes, Nora, not the correctly spelled Norah). But, the Los Angeles Times and NBC Los Angeles report, this weekend's customers—some of whom waited in line for hours at the Los Feliz storefront—could actually only order iced coffees, lattes, and pastries from a nearby Vons grocery store, all handed out for free.

The store—or pop-up art installation, or basis for a documentary, or whatever it is—opened Friday, and its FAQ claims this is all legal thanks to "parody law." "By adding the word 'dumb,' we are technically 'making fun of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as 'fair use,'" the FAQ reads. "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 considered the art." A rep for the real Starbucks says the store is "obviously not a Starbucks" and that the company is "looking into it." Some social media commenters have hypothesized guerrilla artist Banksy is behind Dumb Starbucks. A nearby salon owner notes that he saw a film crew in the storefront recently.

YouTube footage of Dumb Starbucks.
YouTube footage of Dumb Starbucks.   (YouTube)
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A KPCC reporter notes, "On Sunday, there still was no business license or health code rating posted in the establishment. The baristas said they were hired from Craigslist."   (Newsy)

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I hope it’s an art thing vs. a business thing. I’d love to see a whole chain of Dumb McDonald’s and Dumb Cheesecake Factories. - Dumb Starbucks customer Jeffrey Eyster

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