Spotlight on: The Ultimate Escape Rooms - Alexis Crouse, co-owner

Central Coast residents and visitors have a new place where they can "escape" from the real world. The Ultimate Escape Rooms, a Ventura-based company, plans to open its doors at 485 Alisal, suite 120, in Solvang sometime this month. 

The business's main attraction? Its name says it all.

"Real-life room-escape games are a type of physical adventure game where people are locked in a room with other participants and must use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit," co-owner Alexis Crouse said. "The rooms are a little like a video game come to life." Crouse co-owns the company with Annette Cortez and her husband, Scott.

click to enlarge Spotlight on: The Ultimate Escape Rooms - Alexis Crouse, co-owner
ESCAPE TO FUN: Solvang’s newest attraction features a series of 200-square-foot rooms that challenges teams of two to eight people to solve puzzles and escape the space within an hour.

So far, only one room is listed on the company's website for patrons to escape from at the Solvang location. It's called "The Mischievous Nisse" and is described as a traditional Christmas-themed setting where your family's nisse–a goblin in Scandinavian folklore–"is not happy about your family's decision to not observe traditional Christmas activities this year." 

Other rooms will be added in the coming weeks, including one called "The Snow Queen" and another dubbed "Gold Fever." 

Like most escape rooms, participants have an hour to solve all the puzzles and escape. 

But don't worry, Crouse said, the spaces are family friendly and come with an unlocked emergency exit "available at all times."

Escape rooms are on the rise in popularity nationwide. According to the Room Escape Artist, a website devoted to tracking and reviewing such businesses, in 2014, there were roughly two dozen escape rooms in the United States. That number ballooned to more than 2,000 in 2017, according to data compiled by the site. 

"They are small adventures," Room Escape Artist's cofounder David Spira wrote in a blog post. "When they're really good, you feel like you're a character in Indiana Jones, Oceans 11, Mission Impossible. There's a range of quality, and all manner of different themes, but in a world gone digital, it feels so good to do something in real life."

The Ultimate Escape Rooms offers private parties and team-building corporate events. To make a reservation for a group of eight or "join in on the experience with new friends," contact Alexis Crouse at [email protected] or call (805) 474-4208 and leave a message. For more information and to book a time to play, visit


• United Blood Services and Enos Ranch Stores, along with Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab, will host a blood drive on Aug. 13, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Enos Ranch Shopping Center. All donors will receive a voucher for a free pint of ice cream. Doc Burnstein's opened a store at the shopping center earlier this year. To make an appointment, call (805) 543-4920. 

• On Aug. 9, a job fair for manufacturing operators will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Workforce Resource Center (1410 S. Broadway) in Santa Maria. For questions, contact Alma at [email protected] or at (805) 884-6812.

• CoastHills Credit Union donated $500 to the Lompoc Museum in July. The funds will go toward restoring the museum's World War I monument. 

• Expo Fest 2018: Business, Agriculture, and Energy Industry Expo and Festival will be held on Aug. 25 from noon to 4 p.m. at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. The event is open to the public.

• Santa Maria's Recreation and Parks, the Mayor's Task Force on Youth Safety, and One Nation 805, will present its first backpack giveaway for kids age 5 to 18 on Aug. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center. Barbers and hair stylists will also be available on site to provide free haircuts. 

• Bonipak Produce Inc., a California-based, family owned and operated grower and shipper of quality vegetables, announced Stan Otremba had been named the new director of sales. "Stan's exceptional leadership skills and depth of industry expertise make him a significant asset to the Bonipak team and our customers," stated Bonipak CEO Joe Leonard. "As Stan steps into his new position, we look forward to continuing to provide the same top-notch service our customers have come to expect, and to reaching new heights through the unique strengths he brings to the table."

• On Aug. 2, Lompoc's Economic and Community Development Department (ECDD) honored four local businesses that participated in the city's Commercial Facade Rebate and Loan Program. The honored businesses were: Earl's RV; Jael and Jabez Salon and Spa; Grocery Outlet Bargain Market; and Mary Sharp, CPA. The ECDD offers a rebate and loan program for commercial businesses located within the city limits wishing to make improvements to the façade of their building. The rebate component comes in installments of cash up to $5,000, and the loan component is an unsecured loan of up to $15,000. 

Staff Writer Spencer Cole wrote this week's Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at [email protected].

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