Labyrinth Owners Start Campaign To Expand Into Comedy Center

The back area of the National Comedy Center where Comedy Center Park is located will be one of the locations for a food cart that will be operated by the owners of the Labyrinth Press Company. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

There will be a local taste to the food that will be available at the National Comedy Center.

NCC officials have hired the owners of the Labyrinth Press Company to provide food at the national attraction based on the “celebration of comedy.” In order to raise funding for the new venture, the Labyrinth’s owners, Jeff and Alexandria James and Frank Besse, who also own Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge, have started a Kickstarter campaign.

Besse said they started the campaign because it’s more fun than going to a bank and signing their lives over to borrow the money. He said this way they will be able to provide patrons of their businesses rewards for pledges they make toward the comedy center project.

“We’ve always wanted to do a Kickstarter campaign and we thought it would be a lot of fun to get the funds we need from our customers and have rewards for them and do other fun things like provide merchandise and tickets for shows,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of successful Kickstarters and it builds from within the community and we are all about community.”

Some of the rewards include a pizza party that includes six pizzas for up to 12 guest in the Green Room at Brazil if you pledge more than $100.

Other rewards include a one night stay, with dinner and breakfast, in a two-room apartment located above the Labyrinth and Brazil along historic Thurston Terrace for $150; unlimited coffee for a year for $300; and several other prizes for any pledge of $4 or more.

“We wanted to have a variety of physical things and we are also offering good experiences,” Besse said. “We are also entertaining adding rewards through the campaign. We might be adding some rewards that people suggest as ideas. So there might be more stuff as people interact and comment on that. It goes back to having fun with it.”

The food concession contract at the NCC will be for the owners of the Lab to stock an area in the gift shop with ready-made foods like sandwiches, burritos and salads, Besse said. He said they will also be operating a food cart that will be located on the back patio of the center that will be open seasonally. He added that during special events they will be able to move the food cart to different locations around the comedy center.

Besse said the food available in the gift shop will be similar combinations to what people can already purchase at the Labyrinth and Brazil. He said for the food cart they will be trying new dishes with traditional foods like hot dogs and hamburgers. However, he added they will add their own unique flavors to traditional foods to make it memorable for comedy center visitors.

“For the grab-and-go, we will be supplying food all year long, and you don’t have to go through the (comedy center) and you don’t have to go through for the back patio either,” he said. “The back patio will be seasonally and dependent on the weather. It is beautiful back there (Comedy Center Park), a great investment by the comedy center and the city. The area by the river is really appealing. We’re glad to be a part of that.”

The funding from the Kickstarter campaign will go toward purchasing the equipment needed to provide food at the NCC. Besse said they will be buying merchandiser coolers for the grab-and-go area as well as cooking equipment for the patio food cart operation. He said so far the response has been positive. As of Thursday afternoon, $2,870 of a $10,000 goal had been raised. The campaign is slated to continue for 18 more days.

“We are happy to exceed the goal. Every dollar above will go toward making the Labyrinth a better place and we will invest it into the business,” he said.

Besse said, along with Jeff and Alexandria James, they decided to take on this new challenge at the NCC because they are passionate about their food and providing it to the community.

“We do things a little differently, at a high quality. We wanted to do our little part to make the comedy center experience a little bit better,” Besse said. “We also wanted to keep more money locally. We support local business and we employee local people.”

Besse said the new venture will not impact the experience people currently enjoy at the Labyrinth. If anything, he said they will be able to make the Lab even better for their customers by making their infrastructure more robust. He said because the concession contract is for grab-and-go food at the NCC they will bring that option to the Labyrinth, located at 12 E. Fourth St., starting mid-July.

To visit the Kickstarter campaign page, go to kickstarter.com/projects/536126592/expanding-the-labyrinth-into-the-national-comedy-c#.

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