New business offers chance to 'Escape the Cape'

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When Chase and Mandy McFarland went to an escape room, they had no idea how much they would fall in love with the game. 

Spawning from the "Escape the Room" video games, Escape Rooms are physical adventure games where players are locked in a room and have a set amount of time to get out of the room or complete a mission with the clues and tools provided. In recent years, businesses across the country have opened providing millions the opportunity to participate.

After completing their own escape room mission, Chase immediately told his wife the couple needed to open an escape room business of their own.  Mandy put up a resistance, but Chase persisted.  Doing his research and stressing how much he wanted to pursue a new business venture, and finding there was no other escape room located in Cape Coral, he persuaded Mandy what a great concept it would be.

Business minded, Chase, who owns McFarland Landscaping, and creative minded fourth-grade school teacher Mandy, quickly found it was to going to take a lot of persistence and research just to become properly zoned for such a concept. After all, the city’s zoning department was not sure how to initially zone them. No other escape room has opened in Cape Coral.  Weeks of floor plans, business plans, and research finally paid off for the pair, as they received their zoning permits and were on their way.

While Chase worked on the business end, Mandy sat down with a pen and pad of paper and started jotting down concepts, and components of how each room would work. Having experienced escape rooms before, she knew the beginnings of where to start and knew it needed to be exciting and uncommon.  When asked how she comes up with the types of escapes she would design, she says the research was one key and having a devious puzzle mind helped, “Some companies do ‘buy’ room designs. Escape the Cape is unique, and their room designs are original in components.”

With the concepts realized and the preparation complete, the couple opened Escape the Cape Escape Rooms in Cape Coral in November 2016. The business saw instant success staying booked most evenings and weekends offering two rooms to experience, the Oval Office and Jail Break, with a third room planned for the future, a 70’s murder room. 

With only two rooms, some would think customers would rarely repeat. However, Mandy says that is not the case at Escape the Cape, as they strive to keep the rooms interesting and challenging, “Due to current clients bringing in friends and family, new residents moving in, and our annual visitors and research of other escape rooms, it’s not likely this would happen. However, we do keep it in mind, if rooms no longer book out, and doesn’t seem to be popular, then different rooms will be developed.”

Since opening, the couple says the niche business has seen people of all ages come in and enjoy the concept, even at times bringing the entire family, “Children are very observant, more so than us big kids, and it is interesting to observe how the children are more apt to help their parents solve the room. It’s all about family, friends and having fun,” says Mandy.

In addition to friends and family taking part in the new business, Escape the Cape has also seen their rooms become a destination for corporate retreats. Such organizations and businesses as the Cape Coral Fire Department, LCEC, and Waste Management have sent their employees to compete, learn communication skills, and team building. And compete they do, says Mandy, “Most everyone who comes in likes to compete and make it on the leaderboard with the quickest time solving the room, earning bragging rights and getting their pictures with signs touting their accomplishments, or not, but almost making it out.”

Escape the Cape is located at 728 Pine Island Road #16. For more information including operating hours, call (239) 292-9431, or visit escapethecapefl.com.