New business offers a chance to escape from reality and solve problems
DOVER - Mind Lock Escape Room officially opened its doors this week. Well, the front door anyway. The inside doors get closed behind guests after they’ve entered themed rooms. That’s the fun of it.
“It’s a themed room with puzzles you need to solve to get to a goal,” says co-owner George Spiciarich, who owns Mind Lock Escape Room with his stepdaughter Janice Stuart.
Mind Lock Escape Room has two themed rooms. Participants are locked in and are tasked with solving puzzles to unlock clues. If they solve all the clues, they successfully escape the room.
Currently, the themes at Mind Lock Escape Room are Patient Zero, in which participants must prevent a zombie apocalypse, and Speakeasy, in which participants must find Al Capone’s ledger.
The rooms are themed to embody the worlds of their conceits. In the Patient Zero room, blood smears in the shape of handprints are on the walls, surrounding science equipment.
The Speakeasy room is reminiscent of an era gone by, with a piano, a dart board, detailed molding, and a tin ceiling. Hidden in the details are nods to Stuart’s other business. She’s a manager at Honora Winery and J’Ville Brewery. On a barrel that acts as a table in the center of the room, a J’Ville pint glass sits next to a bottle of Honora wine.
The escape room is located in Mount Snow Market Place in Dover. Stuart opened a tasting room for Honora and J’Ville last year, also in Mount Snow Market Place, which is owned by Adam Levine. Levine also is a partner in the Valley View Saloon, which is located between the tasting room and the escape room. Stuart credits Levine’s helpfulness with her decision to create the escape room.
“I found it really easy to work with Adam,” she says. “He’s super-helpful in everything from being a landlord to helping me with town stuff.
She says Levine had once mentioned that an escape room might come to the spot. “I thought, ‘That’ll be awesome for the winery and the brewery,’” she says. Eventually she learned the deal had fallen through, but that there was a conscious effort on behalf of the town to attract more indoor recreation businesses. Plus, she thought, the more people who come to Mount Snow Market Place, the better for the tasting room and for the Valley View Saloon.
“So I said, I could probably start an escape room,” she says with a confident shrug, laughing. “But I have to say if Adam wasn’t such a great landlord — he just went above and beyond helping us with the tasting room. I knew he would be helpful with this, too.”
Stuart says she texted Spiciarich. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s start an escape room.’” Spiciarich’s first question was why. Stuart had answers. “There’s a lack of stuff to do in the valley, I think it will be really good for the Saloon and the tasting room, and I think it will be good for the valley. There’s nothing to do other than bowling.”
“I run an Airbnb business, too,” says Spiciarich, “and the biggest question I always get is, ‘What is there to do when it’s raining?’ You can go bowling, or you can go to Brattleboro or Bennington to find something to do.”
Spiciarich says it was about a week from the time he received the text to the time he and Stuart were moving full steam ahead with the plan, signing a lease with Levine. That was in late October, and they set their sights on opening by mid-January so they’d be open for some of ski season. They both acknowledge it was ambitious.
“It’s been busy,” says Spiciarich. “We’ve had no life outside of the escape room. Our timeline was mid-January. We came pretty close. ”
“We get stuff done,” says Stuart.
In that time, they repainted, remodeled, and updated the space, including implementing the themed rooms and creating an area where people can play board games, which Stuart and Spiciarich say was the brainchild of Stuart’s mom, Bibiana Braun, who is also part of the business.
“You come in and pay $5 a head, you play a game, you like it we’ll credit you whatever your group paid toward the purchase of a game,” says Spiciarich. “And you can try as many games as you want.”
Mind Lock Escape Room is open Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 9 pm, and Friday through Sunday, noon to 9 pm. Admission is $28 per person 12 or older, and $14 for ages 11 and under.
Rooms are booked until they’re full, which means participants may be grouped with strangers. If a private room is preferred, it’s possible to book the whole room, but admission would have to be paid for the room’s capacity. That said, if two people make reservations and no one else happens to join (but they would have been OK with it if someone had), they pay $28 per person, not the full room cost.
Reservations can be made online though the escape room’s website, mindlockescaperoom.com, or by calling (802) 242-0604.