America’s Original Mystery Dinner Theater – 25 Years in Boston
My name is David Goldstein and I founded the Mystery Café in the fall of 1987. It was one of many ideas that I had for my first business, as everyday I would have a new business concept that I would run by my friends. I called them and told them about this idea, to combine the whodunit aspect of Shear Madness with the audience participation of a medieval dinner theater. They all said “David, just shut up and do something!“
So I did, and that was the start of the Mystery Café. We broke 300 mirrors (only 2,100 years bad luck) in the basement of the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge as we renovated the original location of Mystery Café into an 80 seat dinner theater. With the help of writer Phil Lebovits and a script entitled “Death & Taxes” (later renamed “Murder on the Campaign Trail”), we opened our doors on April 15, 1988 to a full house. That continued five nights a week, and a dinner theater and an entertainment genre was born.
It didn’t stop there: a second Cambridge location soon opened and we knew we were on to something good. During the next 7 years we licensed our concept, the logo and the scripts to producers in 21 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Now, in 2013, the Mystery Café is still running strong and you can find mystery dinner theaters located all over the world, in most major cities and in many smaller ones. Look what we started! The story I liked to share then was when we started people used to ask, “Do I have to participate?”, now they ask “How do I participate.” It certainly has changed.
The story doesn’t end there. Mystery Cafe grew to perform on boats, dinner trains and function rooms and we entertained corporate clients including Microsoft, Apple (who knew they could agree on anything?), and thousands of other Fortune 500 companies, both at our dinner theaters and with our Touring Company. Mystery Cafe grew into Comedy Theater Productions and then really grew up as TeamBonding – one of top corporate training and team building companies in North America.
One of the things of which I am most proud is that, in addition to featuring some of Boston’s most talented performers, the Mystery Café has been responsible for quite a few marriages. Two of them have been between our actors and actresses and three of them have been between our actors and audience members. Talk about interactive theater!
If you haven’t been to the Mystery Café come and check it out. It is a great combination of mystery, music, food, fun, and audience participation. If you’ve been before, come on back! We change the shows regularly and always try new things to make your experience memorable and unique.
So, Boston and New England, thank you for supporting our dinner theater, dinner cruises and mansion mysteries, and make sure to check back often to see all that we have to offer!
See you at the show,
David “Mystery Dave” Goldstein