Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain, is part of a team that is investing more than $ 10 million in a new interactive game company called Level 99.
NATICK – Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain, is a partner in a new venture that arrives at the Natick Mall called Level 99.
Another partner, Matt DuPlessie, founder, president and CEO of Box Fort and 5 Wits, told The Daily News that he and Boston-based Shaich investment group – Act III Holdings – would invest more than $ 10 million. dollars in the business.
Level 99 will offer live interactive games, as well as a tap room owned and operated by Night Shift Brewing in Everett.
It is slated to open next spring and will occupy the remaining 48,000 square feet of the second floor of the former Sears building.
“Natick is a fantastic city,” said DuPlessie. “Its demographics match. Its density matches. Natick Mall is a fantastic project. It is a premier mall in Massachusetts.”
The Natick Mall would be the first level 99 location, and DuPlessie said the company was Shaich’s first foray into entertainment.
Level 99 is based on the interactive entertainment concepts developed by 5 Wits and Box Fort, two Massachusetts companies in which DuPlessie has a majority stake. Five Wits has six locations, including Patriot Place in Foxborough. Box Fort, based in Norwood, designs and builds interactive play spaces.
The mall location will include 43 interactive game rooms based on themes that include ancient civilizations like Tomb, a theme currently found at 5 Wits.
According to DuPlessie, other themes on the drawing board at level 99 include a candy factory, an explorers club, and an abstract art room.
Each room accommodates groups of two to six people.
Level 99 will also include what DuPlessie called “arena games”, pitting player against player. The plan is that there are eight based on the concept of an interactive theme.
In addition to the tap room, Night Shift will operate a separate seating area among games for dining and drinking guests.
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Night Shift, which ranked sixth last year in barrels produced in Massachusetts, according to Mass Brew Bros., announced last month that it was abandoning plans to occupy a 130,000 square foot expansion in Philadelphia, due to financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Level 99 and Night Shift partnership is aimed at young adults (ages 21 to 39), but DuPlessie told the Natick Planning Board that customers of all ages will be welcome.
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Level 99 will enter into a lease with the Natick Mall, said DuPlessie. He examines different legal structures with Night Shift, including subletting and what DuPlessie called a “licensing structure”.
DuPlessie is expected to return to Natick’s Planning Council on July 8 to finalize signage permits outside the Natick Mall and on a mall walkway.
Henry Schwan is a multimedia reporter for the Daily News. Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymetrowest. He can be reached at [email protected]kedlocal.com or 508-626-3964.
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