In February 2019, Seattle-based app Mystery launched its Night Out concept. Initially built around curating experiences for people to discover exceptional dining and off-beat activities across the city, the opening design was set on a sure course for success (note: Night Out is unrelated to the ticketing platform). For a year, the company’s interactive and situation-based product gained momentum, connecting patrons ranging from 21 – 85 years old with between 100 – 150 to a range of restaurants, events and amusements. The success of the project set the team towards expanding into Denver and Austin — with plans to launch the platform in the Mile High in July.
In the original model, members would develop their profile through a series of questions gauging their interest in outdoor and physical activities, music taste, alcohol consumption and food preference, amongst others. From there, patrons could select from the all-encompassing Classic Mystery, or specify general parameters including “birthday” or “anniversary”, date nights involving “active,” “casual,” “calming” or “romantic,” with an additional option to explore the city by region. Based on the above information — and a preselected price range — the original app would arrange an evening that included both a meal and an activity, with transportation all being set up in advance for an optimum surprise. Mystery would collect a $20 planning fee and all other expenses would be charged to the card on file.
“In March it became glaringly obvious that this model wasn’t going to work anymore,” said founder and CEO Shane Kovalsky. Having initially developed the concept to help people create memorable experiences free of option paralysis, Kovalsky and his team quickly took to conceptualizing a way to refashion the escapade for those stuck at home. “What does the anatomy of a good night out look like? How do we blend the experiences together? There’s a big delta between what people think they enjoy and what they actually enjoy,” said Kovalsky.
Now called Night In, the new idea launched in Denver roughly on schedule with Night Out’s prospective debut. In its current iteration, customers order a Mystery Box for a particular date, leaving a general window for delivery. Boxes come complete with a variety of locally-made items geared towards shaking up an evening spent at home. An option to include dinner is available and recommended.
While much Night In’s charm comes from its commitment to secrecy, customers in Denver can expect a top-notch meal from one of four local establishments, with the included main and supplementary activities all highlighting local businesses. A coloring book — featuring contributions from local talent SoGnar Creative Division, Daniel Crosier, Sofia Emm, Kayla Gilbert and others — is but one example of the carefully-selected material that fills each container. As with Night Out, the app collects a $20 fee, with all other expenses ($100 for just the activities, $150 including a dinner for two) being passed on to the roster of over 20 local providers. Extra meals ($25) or red or white wine ($25) can all be added during checkout. Despite initially viewing the Night In box as a stop-gap, Kovalsky plans to continue it even as Night Out once again becomes viable. Currently, four iterations are available. Additional restaurants and contributors are expected to fill out future versions as the concept continues to get off the ground.
While activities currently favor the classic and crafty, Kovalsky says hosted virtual experiences will likely join the roster in the coming weeks.
Mystery Night In can be ordered here. Orders can be placed up until one day in advance.
All photography courtesy of Mystery.