Escape Room Gaming Business Planned For Downtown Elgin

By Mike Danahey
The Courier-News, Elgin, Ill.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Keisha Thomas hopes to create an escape room business that would include elaborate setups in two rooms. The first room would be a “Sherlock Adventure” set in the old England of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, and the second room would be the “Da Vinci Experience,” set in the artist-and-inventor’s Medici-era of Florentine Italy.

The Courier-News, Elgin, Ill.

Lookout, Pokemon Go players — another real world game is heading to downtown Elgin.

Wednesday evening, the Elgin City Council unanimously approved conditional use zoning that allows for the opening sometime later this year of an escape room at 77 Riverside Drive, the three story building with the burgundy awning off the south end of the Riverside Drive Promenade.

“It’s exciting that this is going on,” Council member Tish Powell said. “We’re getting an escape room in downtown Elgin. It’s really unique.”

According to information provided by the city, “the proposed escape room business is a live action, physical adventure game in which players are placed in a themed room and have to use elements of the room to find clues and solve a series of puzzles to escape the room within a set time limit.”

Such businesses are springing up across the country, as well as in online and classroom versions. News reports claim former President Barack Obama and his family played the game at a spot in Hawaii during their Christmas vacation.

In Elgin, the Escapade 360 endeavor intends to rent a 3,000-square-foot third floor unit in the Riverside Drive building and won’t make any changes to the tenant space except for installing interior security cameras and various props throughout themed rooms.

Entrepreneur Keisha Thomas of Belvidere told the Council her initial plans include elaborate setups for two rooms, one a “Sherlock Adventure” set in the old England of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories, and the “Da Vinci Experience,” set in the artist-and-inventor’s Medici-era of Florentine Italy.

Supporting material for the Wednesday meeting explains that each room would hold up to eight players at any one time, with each game lasting approximately one hour. Rooms would be booked by appointment.

Participants would be met by an employee who would inform them about the rules of the game, introduce them to their chosen room and monitor the game by way of cameras for the duration of the hour.

Players won’t be locked in the Elgin escape rooms and could leave at any time they wish — a move that made Powell happy, as she said she would probably panic if locked in such a game.

Per its application, the business doesn’t plan to serve food or drinks. It would be open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Thomas told the Council the way the escape room games work, the Sherlock and da Vinci versions would run for 6 to 12 months, then be replaced with other themes. She also hopes to have two additional themes available during the first 6 to 12 months she is open, eventually giving players four options from which they can choose.
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Powell said the business will be a wonderful addition to the downtown and joked that it might provide a retreat opportunity for the City Council.

“Welcome to Elgin. We’re glad to have you,” Council member Toby Shaw told Thomas before casting his approving vote.

According to an Internet search, there are escape room businesses in Aurora, McHenry, Naperville, St. Charles, Schaumburg, Wheaton, quite a few other suburbs and in Chicago.

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