The doors at 3933 Main St. are locked tight, but the startup journey once housed inside them is far from over, teased AbdulRasheed Yahaya.
“Local Legends isn’t going anywhere … unless we’re talking about the video game truck. That’s going everywhere,” said Yahaya, owner of Local Legends Gaming — an eSports and gaming business that started as a mobile gaming truck.
The brand’s flagship gaming center closed its Westport doors Monday, after about six months in operation.
Click here to read more about the mission of Local Legends and how Yahaya sees Kansas City’s eSports culture.
News of the shuttered location followed a shooting which injured three people and saw a fourth trampled during a private party at the gaming center in late May, Yahaya explained.
“I was pissed! I love Kansas City more than many know,” he said of his initial reaction to the violence in his space. “I use my platform to provide opportunities for those without. As a minority business owner working to provide a solution for the lack of options for those who want something other than the clubs or bars, this is a business nightmare.”
Yahaya kept tabs on the victims who have continued to recover from their injuries, he said.
A move was long on the horizon as Local Legends looked to level up, Yahaya said.
“Local Legends has always had a reputation for providing a premium shared experience and the building we occupied in was falling apart. You really can’t have that much technology with a flooding basement and leaking ceiling,” he explained.
As a minority entrepreneur, negative local media reaction to the shooting left Yahaya scratching his head, since previous reporting from multiple outlets — including Startland — eagerly focused on telling the story of his commitment to youth eSports, he said.
“There’s a shooting in Midtown KC or Westport every week. We all just pretend like the Westport Bar district doesn’t turn into a barricaded concentration camp every weekend with half of KCPD looking like Call of Duty characters,” he said. “… the community we serve knows Local Legends was created to provide value to Kansas City — so I used the thirsty, ambulance chasing media to help me save on my marketing budget. Now that I have everyone’s attention, ‘boom’ here’s the good we bring to Kansas City … like the hundreds of students I teach entrepreneurship to.”
Leaving Westport behind, Yahaya is eager to announce his plans for a new gaming center that better aligns with the brand’s mission and that of his latest endeavor as a co-founder of TheDistriKC — an organization dedicated to enabling communities of color to take control of neglected environments, he said.
“This is merely a reminder of the need for the work The DistriKC is doing. We will continue to be the change actual families from the urban core need,” Yahaya declared.
An entrepreneurial challenge he didn’t see coming, the shooting has empowered Yahaya to further give back to Kansas City youth, he noted.
“My goal is still to ignite a flame in them that no one can put out. To put my money where my mouth is, this fall Local Legends will award over $54,000 in scholarships to students who compete in the Kansas City High School eSports Championship,” Yahaya announced.
No end in sight, Local Legends is set to host six eSports championships in 2019, he added in support of his vow overcome the temporary setback his business has experienced.
“Best advice I can offer entrepreneurs is: ‘You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide whether or not to be reduced by them,’” Yahaya said, quoting media personality Charlamagne Tha God.
Although leaving the flagship gaming center behind him is bittersweet, Yahaya is eager for his entrepreneurial future, he said.
“There is no mystery that Main street and Westport isn’t receptive to diversity or inclusion — at all,” Yahaya said. “As for the new location, we’re going to let that news marinate a little longer … but it’s epic.”