On Monday, EscapeHouse will debut in Chicago as a teaser to SafeHouse, the spy-adventure restaurant, and it will include a room designed to look like a replica of the Oval Office. (Escape House)
EcapeHouse. SafeHouse. You may not know what these names mean; you're about to find out.
SafeHouse (60 E. Ontario St.), the immersive spy-adventure restaurant concept that has been a fixture in Milwaukee since 1966, is headed to Chicago (its first-ever expansion), aiming for a mid-January opening.
In SafeHouse (password required for entry), guests take on spy personas and work as a team to uncover and solve clues and complete missions, then sit down to a menu with such items as Fried C4 Cheese Curds, License to Kill mac and cheese, Spy Burger (the Double Agent is the double burger) and -- I love this one -- Albert Broccoli's Broccoli.
"It's awesome," says Greg Marcus (Agent BB, on the phone), president and CEO of The Marcus Corp., the lodging and entertainment company that owns SafeHouse. "You're immersed the minute you walk in, to the time you leave. It's fun. And if you can't tell, we're having fun with it."
That's for January, as I mentioned above. But to whet the public's appetite, the company will debut EscapeHouse (54 E. Ontario St., escapehousechicago.com), a sort of fast-forward version of the spy experience, on Monday.
EscapeHouse is Marcus Corp.'s version of escape rooms, which are popular around the country. In an escape room, guests are placed in a locked room and given one hour to solve the clues that will allow them to escape.
When the hour is up, those still in the room are shot. Wait, no, they aren't. They get to leave, forever stigmatized by their failure.
"This is sort of the amuse bouche (to SafeHouse)," Marcus (I mean, Agent BB) said. "In EscapeHouse, you get to be a spy for an hour."
EscapeHouse offers two individual rooms, one of them a detailed re-creation of the Oval Office.
"That version is 'Save the White House,'" said Agent BB. "I've never seen an escape room that looks like this. We believe this experience is far beyond what anyone else has done."
Unlike SafeHouse, EscapeHouse doesn't offer food or beverages. "But as it's attached to the AC Hotel (630 N. Rush St., a Marcus property), the hope is that some of the guests will go to the lobby bar to discuss the experience," Agent BB said.
(Note: "Let's go to the bar and debrief each other" is a really cheesy pickup line.)
Admission to EscapeHouse is $35, and reservations are available online.