ESCONDIDO — As the craze grows, so do the options to stump even the most clever of minds.
On Monday, the city will join the growing list of escape rooms unlocking doors across the country, when Clue Avenue opens.
Escape rooms feature a themed room where a group of people are challenged to “break out” by solving numerous clues to stop an ominous threat or challenge, whether it be a mad scientist, zombies, nuclear attack or any other option the creators can come up with.
The creators of Clue Avenue — Nick and Shilpa Pryor, Dave and Kathleen Beccue, Jeremy and Jessica Sewell and Brock and Shannon Fellows — are beginning with humble roots as its first room is dedicated to players stopping a supervillain in the “Villain’s Lair.”
Their room holds between two and six people with various rates depending on the number of people in a team.
“We started hearing about the craze and were really interested,” Pryor said. “We went down to one in San Diego and really enjoyed. The room we went to was simple and basic, not in a bad way … it seemed like a simple concept to do on our own.”
The friends, who all work other full-time jobs, found space in downtown above the Patio Playhouse on East Grand Avenue, and worked diligently for the past several months to build and create the sets and clues for patrons.
As for the look of the room, Pryor declined to get into specifics, saying it’s part of the players’ experience. Nevertheless, the group is optimistic Escondido’s first escape room will become a hit.
“There is a large, untapped population in Escondido,” Dave Beccue said.
While Clue Avenue only has one room currently, Pryor said they will soon expand to another room. The lessons learned from building, designing and generating clues will come much faster for the second room.
“We’ve learned what was time consuming with the first one,” Pryor explained. “We are trying to put in a little more depth and complexity to, not just the storyline, but the puzzles themselves.”
Clue Avenue, meanwhile, was conceived in February when the friends started emailing each other brainstorming ideas — everything from the name of the company, to themes and designs.
Kathleen Beccue said they had a “deep bench of talent,” including a former set designer for the California Center of the Arts, Escondido. By pooling their resources, the group got the ball rolling.
They found their location, 201 E. Grand Ave., Ste. 2G, and began working toward opening.
“We have a lot of people with experience in customer service, writing, creativity, theatrics,” Beccue said.
But to separate their room from others, Dave Beccue said it’s their goal to leave their customers pondering “important questions,” such as moral aspects of their escape room.
Another goal is to make the room’s difficulty not so hard that it can’t be solved, but rather amping up the excitement in the race against the clock.
Clue Avenue will be just the third escape room in North County, joining The School of Hard Locks in Carlsbad and Mighty Awesome Escape Rooms in San Marcos.
“We want it to be a cooperative industry where we can endorse each other,” Kathleen Beccue said. “You want to be referring them to have an experience when you’re in the process of turning over your room.”
For more about Clue Avenue, visit their website at clueavenue.com, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.