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What Happened to Sinister Shadows, Part 1

So… what happened to Sinister Shadows?

I can’t answer that question without first explaining what the plan for Sinister Shadows is. (Yes, there IS still a plan!)

Sinister Shadows was always meant to be more than just a family oriented haunted house attraction, It was to be a large indoor entertainment facility.
Of course the main attraction would be the haunted house… But we all know that haunted houses are quite seasonal at best.
So, in addition to a haunted house ride… The facility was also going to have an indoor “haunted house themed” mini glow golf course, a gift shop, and a gothic haunted house themed restaurant. (think “rain forest café” meets “Disney’s haunted mansion”)

Because the goal was to open one large facility with all the separate businesses functioning at the same time, We
approached the design and planning of each area simultaneously.

This was a very large challenge for a handful of people to attempt to do without any large financial backing.

Nonetheless, team Sinister Shadows plugged away bit by bit and planned every square inch and every detail as if we were opening tomorrow.

During that planning, we realized we needed to get a liquor license and a lot of restaurant equipment!

So, ironically while we were sitting in a Rain Forest Café… We decided to start looking for a restaurant that had a liquor license that we could buy.

That restaurant ended up being Hurricane Pizza Grill. A two-story 6500 square-foot building that was home to a pizza restaurant, pizza delivery service, and tavern all under one roof.

With all of the props and stunts we had built and planned for our future restaurant… We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test build our haunted house themed restaurant.

Shortly after purchasing the restaurant, we realized that the location wasn’t “touristy enough” to support a theme restaurant. Not only would re-theming the restaurant be a bad idea, we realized that we didn’t know enough about the restaurant business to even consider building a new one at that point.

Here’s an important point to keep in mind, a haunted house is rarely enough to stand on its own as a business. So we had to make absolutely certain that a part of the business would be able to pay the bills 365 days a year… and the weight of that responsibility would fall on the shoulders of the restaurant.

Over the next couple of years we gained more of an education than we could have learned in any other way.

Unfortunately that meant that some of the other plans for Sinister Shadows had to be put on the back burner.

Remember, I do not know of any successful haunted houses that are run by people who don’t have some other business or job in their life. Every single individual stand alone haunted house (i’m not talking about ones that are within amusement parks) is typically a side business or hobby for somebody… or only a short-lived business that soon vanishes.

So, this was a necessary side trip.

Over the past three years, the Hurricane Pizza Grill has become a viable business with more than 20 employees that count on it to feed their families and pay their bills.

We’ve won awards for our food, customer service, and continue to grow faster than any business has in this location.

Every single piece of the Sinister Shadows project is still intact… Sitting just where it was…. ready to fulfill it’s mission when called upon.

If we would have built the facility as we originally envisioned… (knowing now what I didn’t know back then) There’s no doubt in my mind it would’ve been out of business in the first year.

I now have a more sustainable business plan, and have successfully tested out many things I couldn’t have tried without having a functioning restaurant to try them in.

There’s still a haunted house to be built. That hasn’t changed.

PART TWO to follow!….

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