SOUDERTON >> The great escape starts this summer in Souderton.
That’s when Play It Out plans to open on the second floor of 117 E. Broad St., above the recently opened Broad Street Grind.
“It’s an escape room,” said Leah O’Leary, who with Wanda Alderfer and Ann Simpson, are Play It Out’s owners.
“Escape rooms are interactive games in which a group of people enter a room to complete a mission,” according to written information provided to Souderton Borough Council at its March 20 work session meeting.
“It could be recover a lost object. It could be escape the room. It could be save a victim,” O’Leary said.
“Every room has a story and so, once you’re in the room, you find out your story and what you’re there to do,” she said. “As soon as the clock starts, you begin looking for clues.”
Each game lasts an hour, she said.
“The term ‘Escape’ is used to heighten excitement for the game, as well as to indicate an escape from reality. Players will never be locked into a room, and they will be able to leave the room at any time,” according to the written information.
Each game is designed for eight players, Play It Out said. There will be two different escape rooms in the 1,100 square feet of space the business will occupy.
“Because our concept is about mental challenges, we are inclusive to a broad spectrum of ages and abilities,” the written information says.
The game does not include smartphones or other similar devices, O’Leary said.
“It’s sort of to unplug,” she said. “Really, the phone won’t help you. There’s nothing you can find on Google that will help you within the room.”
Regular business hours will be Thursday and Friday evenings, with extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the written information. The business will also be open for private bookings, such as corporate clients doing teambuilding events, during the day or on other evenings, the information said.
Although the business doesn’t expect to open until the summer, pop up games lasting about 10 minutes are planned for Third Friday activities in Souderton, which begin in April, and at other community events, O’Leary said. That will help give people an introduction into what an escape room is, she said.
The three Play It Out owners were accompanied to the Souderton meeting by Kyle Hoff and Chip McKenna, of Hoff Properties, the building’s owners.
Borough Council said there’s nothing currently in the zoning code for this new type of business, but a resolution will be prepared to allow Play It Out the use of the property as a studio for dance, music, fitness, art or photography, which is currently the closest match to the planned use. A vote on the resolution will be held at council’s April 3 meeting, council President Brian Goshow said.
Additional permits will be required for the business to start and council plans to add the escape room use to the zoning code in the future, council members said.
“Thank you for making us a fun town,” council member Ned Leight told the Play It Out representatives.
Play It Out’s website is at playitoutgames.com.
In another matter at the March 20 work session, Borough Manager Mike Coll said the borough was asked by Anne Henning Scheuring, the organizer of the Hometown Heroes banner program in Lansdale honoring veterans or active duty members of the U.S. military, if the program could also be started in Souderton.
Scheuring would be the organizer, with the borough installing the banners on utility poles and taking the banners down at the end of the season, Coll said.
Council member Jeff Gross said he’s seen the Hometown Heroes banners in other towns.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said.
The council agreed to allow the banners.