Escape back to Prohibition at Speakeasy
New escape room is an immersive, theatrical experience
A 1920s-themed entertainment attraction is coming to downtown Hampton.
“From the moment you enter the room, you’re transported back in time,” said co-owner Alan Stone, 30, of Newport News. “We’re trying for that complete environmental reaction. It’s everything from the soundtrack to the aesthetic of the room to the puzzles. We do our best to recreate something from that time or that story.”
Stone, along with Hampton native and partner Nick Major, 33, are opening Speakeasy Escape Room at 26 W. Queens Way as an immersive, theatrical experience. Participants can come dressed in their favorite 1920s garb, or borrow in-house costumes. The two men also own the 2-year-old Colonial Escape near Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
So-called escape rooms became popular on the Peninsula over the past few years as a form of social gaming. Groups of friends or families work together to solve various puzzles to meet some sort of objective or “escape” a room based on a story line, typically within an hour. Visitors are not actually locked in a room, though.
In its props and room staging, Speakeasy, which is holding an open house on Saturday, takes visitors back to the Prohibition era of 1920-33, when making or selling alcohol was no longer legal in the U.S
Visitors hang out and start their journey in the swanky club-looking lobby called Blind Tiger — another name for a speakeasy back in the day.
In the room called Shine Shack, participants need to solve puzzles to hide incriminating evidence and escape before the police bust into the Blind Tiger. In the Ghastly Flapper area, participants are on a mission to find a missing performer by finding clues on stage, backstage and in her dressing room.
And for those who want to take their adventure outside, Speakeasy offers scavenger hunts that lead participants on a search for clues around downtown Hampton. The venue is opening with three hunts, including one called “The Artist and the Architect” that uses the downtown murals and architectural features, Major said. The scavenger hunts include puzzles, and participants end back at Speakeasy for an escape-room experience.
Speakeasy does not sell alcohol but plans to rent out the Blind Tiger for photo shoots and small parties, the partners said. Stone and Major said they wanted to open their next business in a pedestrian-friendly area.
“It’s all about having fun,” Major said.
Scott Walley, 28, of Hampton, tried out Speakeasy with a group of friends when the business put out a call for testers.
“It looks pretty authentic compared to some of the other escape rooms,” said Walley, who has completed five others.
Ray Walsh, CEO of corporate video company Metro Productions, located across the street, said he would like to see more storefronts downtown and that escape rooms typically attract all ages. He also owns the downtown Historic Post Office building where an artist is finishing a mural by mid-November.
“Anything that can create a little buzz for the downtown, I’m happy for,” Walsh said.
After opening, hours will be 4:30-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit 757-2246044 or visit speakeasyescape.com. Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com or follow @TidewaterBiz.
Alan Stone, right, and Nick Major in the Speakeasy Escape Room’s flapper room. The escape room will open soon in downtown Hampton.
Employee Tiffany Gaudiello walks through Speakeasy Escape Room.
Cocktail paraphernalia from the 1920s and ’30s is part of the Prohibition-themed decoration at the Speakeasy Escape Room.