There’s already a taproom, dueling piano bar and mini-golf, and a unique movie theater and a container park are on the way to The Grove. But, if you think developer Mark Gold of Mishorim Gold is done, it looks like the joke might be on you!

Side Splitters Comedy Club will be bringing the same nationally-known comics. like America’s Got Talent finalist Preacher Lawson, to its Wesley Chapel location that it regularly schedules in Tampa.

Two guys walk into a bar.

One guy says, “Hey, how would you like to bring your comedy club to The Grove theater in Wesley Chapel?”

The other guy says, “Hey yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it!”

Okay, so that’s not much of a joke — we’ll leave that to the pros, who will be headed to Wesley Chapel in a few months, when the renowned Side Splitters Comedy Club opens a its second location in The Grove on S.R. 54.

Developer Mark Gold, who is redeveloping The Grove into an entertainment space unrivaled in the area, says he has forged a deal with Brian Thompson, the owner of Side Splitters in Carrollwood, to bring a full-fledged stand-up comedy club to the area before the end of 2020.

As part of the former Cobb theater’s dramatic makeover — which already is set to include a huge video game area, a high-tech spin room, theaters that cater to kids and moviegoers and two new restaurants — Side Splitters Comedy Club will take over one of the theaters for its stand-up shows.

“We have gotten a ton of requests to get another location and Wesley Chapel is one of the areas with the most requests,” says Thompson. “We know it’s a growing area and, when the opportunity came up to get in there, we took it. We see it as a win-win for both of us.”

And, for the record, Gold and Thompson didn’t forge the deal at a bar. Instead, Thompson, who says he has been unofficially scouting the Wesley Chapel area for years, came across a 3-D video online showing the new things happening at The Grove and inquired about any vacancies.

He was told one unit was available, but it was smaller than what he was looking for, so he declined.

However, five minutes later, after Gold found out a comedy club had called — just what he had been looking for — the developer arranged to meet with Thompson that same day.

“He said he was one of the top comedy clubs in the U.S.,” Gold says. “I had a theater available in what will be an entertainment complex. It’s perfect. It’s a good fit.”

April Macie has performed at Side Splitters Comedy Club, as well as on Netflix.

While the original Side Splitters is a 5,500-sq.-ft. location and seats 250 patrons at tables and chairs below the stage, the comedy theater at The Grove will seat roughly 170 above the stage, with food and drink service.

“It will be a little different, but it will be the same intimate feel of Side Splitters that people dig,” says Thompson met with Gold’s management company this past week to hammer out the details.

Thompson, who was the general manager at Side Splitters since 2007 before buying the club in 2019, says it draws 70,000-80,000 people a year while mostly holding shows Thursdays through Sundays. That built-in audience is likely to translate nicely to the Wesley Chapel location, which also happens to be the home of some of Side Splitters’ more popular comics, like Rahn Hortman and JB Ball.

Side Splitters Carrollwood has hosted a number of nationally-known comics, and Thompson says some of those big names also will come to Wesley Chapel.

“We’ll definitely get comedians with some strong TV credits — some late night appearances, “America’s Got Talent,” “Last Comic Standing” — people like that,” Thompson says.  

Open mic nights also are popular at the club and will carry over to The Grove.

“It’s a nice partnership,” Thompson says. “Mark’s vision is having a one-stop shop, where people can walk around, grab dinner, play a round of golf and see a comedy show, without having to get in their cars to drive to each place. We’re very very excited to be part of that.” 

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