Tina and Vic Ronder tried to escape — but they just got pulled deeper into the escape-room experience. After recognizing the business potential of the popular puzzle rooms that require team members to work together to solve the mystery and unlock the door, the couple is building their own version — complete with drinks and dining. They expect to open Solutions Lounge and Restaurant at 2220 California Street (right next door to the brand-new Woods Boss Brewing) in October.
"As far as we know, we're the first escape room to offer a full bar and restaurant," Tina explains.
Solutions has paired with Escapology, an escape-room franchise company headquartered in Florida, for the puzzle-solving portion of its new enterprise. The Ronders will offer seven rooms with different themes where teams of six people (or sometimes eight) can work together to find their way out of the room. Groups of six people can book a room together, or you can go by yourself or as a couple to be matched with others to form a group. Vic notes that escape rooms are popular with friends and family members looking for a bonding experience, as well as corporations looking for team-building exercises; Solutions is working with an independent HR firm that will provide metrics and feedback to companies that send their employees for an escape-room session, he says.
The Ronders listened to feedback from escape-room fans who said they'd love to be able to show up early or stay late for food and drinks rather than having to go somewhere else. So Solutions will offer a full menu with a cheese-centered theme, served in a space complete with a speakeasy-style lounge area and patio that will seat up to 105 guests. Tableside raclette service will be the signature dish; if you're not familiar with raclette, it's a type of Swiss cheese that's presented whole and melted layer by layer, then served over bread, meats, potatoes and veggies.
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The kitchen will be overseen by executive chef Darian Blackwell, who is working with consulting chef Jensen Cummings of Brewed Food to come up with the full menu. The beverage program will include seven signature cocktails to go with the seven themed escape rooms.
While food and beverages won't be allowed in the escape rooms (in order to keep decor and props fresh), guests can show up early for dinner and drinks or stay after their one-hour puzzle-solving session.
Problem-solving, teamwork, cocktails and cheese: Sounds like a perfect solution for groups looking for a new nightlife experience.