Escape Factor: A Puzzling Adventure, one of a growing number of so-called “escape room” businesses across the country, will have its grand opening June 16 , after relocating from neighboring Oak Park to Madison Street’s entertainment district at the beginning of April.
Co-owners and longtime friends Jonathan Biag and Dexter Cura opened their Oak Park location in 2016 but wanted more floor space and greater foot traffic. The pair eventually settled on 7228 Madison Street, adjacent to Skrine Chops restaurant and across the street from a Starbucks. The new 1,900-square foot space, which is in the midst of a “soft open,” offers customers two timed challenge rooms. The idea, inspired by old video games, is for groups, usually around 10 or 12, to solve a series of puzzles and escape the room before time runs out, relying on logic, communication and teamwork. Clients range from corporate team-building outings to kid birthday parties.
“We were in a small office building. We couldn’t put up a lot of signage,” Biag said May 31 of the old Oak Park spot. “We’ve changed the story. We’ve changed some puzzles. The set design is off the charts compared to our Oak Park location.”
There is space in the new Madison Street spot for expansion, too. The co-owners have plans to add three more 60-minute challenge rooms and possibly a street-facing smaller room. That space, Cura said, will help expose passers-by to the business.
Cura said he sometimes heads outside to greet curious pedestrians checking out the storefront and explain the concept to potential customers who may be unfamiliar with the experience, right in the middle of Madison Street’s bar and restaurant scene.
“There’s no other competition on this street for us,” Cura said. “It is a lot of just educating people on what it is.”
The pair also developed a quick five minute puzzle challenge that they plan to use at community events, such as Oak Park’s A Day In Our Village, to help simulate what their business offers.
The pair currently employs 3 part-time staffers and has plans to hire a few more in the coming months.
Investing time and resources to construct new rooms is significant and Biag said at least one new room should be ready in the next few months. Pricing per person is $32 for the 60 minute room and $18 for the 30 minute room.
“It’s a fun activity,” Biag said. “Something other than bowling or a movie.”