Thursday, December 7, 2023

Thrills, puzzles, and padlocks

Narrow Escape serves as ‘best kept secret in Granbury’


On the surface, being trapped in a room for an hour doesn’t exactly sound like a fun time, but for Narrow Escape Granbury, it’s all the rage for their customers.

With thrilling puzzles, exciting challenges, and an engaging storyline, escape rooms are the new biggest craze of entertainment venues.

Granbury native Ryan Toth, co-owner and operator of Narrow Escape Granbury with his wife, Sarah, first realized the appeal of escape rooms when he experienced one firsthand on a job assignment in Oregon.

“We were on the road, so there was a lot of time to kill,” he explained. “I ended up doing an escape room with some of the other workers.” 

At the time, Ryan thought escape rooms were completely lame — that is until he walked out of the one in Oregon high-fiving with his buddies.

"By the time I got home from that job, two days later, I was already planning, like, ‘How am I going to do this?’” he said. “We had such a great time that I knew this was something we had to do.”

Ryan explained he had always had an “entrepreneurial spirit” and had always wanted to own a business, but he had no idea of the future he had in store.

In January 2017, Narrow Escape Granbury officially opened at 209 M and M Ranch Road, complete with two themed escape rooms.

Now, after almost seven years in business, Narrow Escape has created a total of 11 rooms, with the building location only allowing four different rooms at a time.

“Our first room that we built — which was our Speakeasy story that kind of centered around some of the history here in Granbury — we just retired that, and it ran for four-and-a-half years,” Ryan said.

Currently, the four rooms at Narrow Escape are Murder Motel, Gold Rush Cabin, The Bunker, and Overdrive Arcade 1989.

Murder Motel is a 60-minute room designed for four to eight players, with a difficulty rating of a 5/5. The scenario involves a book club chasing down a serial killer in an old motel. The game is suitable for players of all ages and is wheelchair accessible.

Gold Rush Cabin is a 60-minute room designed for two to six players, with a difficulty rating of 3/5. The scenario involves finding gold and the deed to a cabin. The game is suitable for players of all ages but is not wheelchair accessible.

The Bunker is a 60-minute room designed for two to six players, with a difficulty rating of 4/5. The scenario involves being trapped in a military bunker. In this game, guests will experience dimly lit areas as well as flickering lights, tight spaces, and climbing. Players younger than 18 must have a guardian present to play this adventure. The game is not wheelchair accessible and is recommended for children ages 13 and older.

Overdrive Arcade 1989 is a 60-minute room designed for four to 10 players, with a difficulty rating of 3/5. The scenario involves time-traveling back to the 1980s to play arcade games in an attempt to beat the world record holder.

“We go overboard with our theming so when you go into the rooms, it definitely immerses you and kind of takes you out of your element," Ryan said, adding that Gold Rush Cabin is his favorite room out of the four.

He explained that room times can vary between 30 to 60 minutes as players are “locked” in a room.

“It’s kind of a hypothetical lock. We don’t actually lock the doors,” Ryan explained. “But yeah, you’re essentially trapped in a room, and you have to solve puzzles, find clues, and perform different tasks to get through the room, and do it in time.”

He said Narrow Escape Granbury shoots for a 90% success rate within the final five minutes of the game.

“Not everybody makes it,” he said. “The one unique thing about us is we will give people the extra time to finish the game. A lot of places, they think that players will pay to return to experience that last few minutes of the game. We've already charged them, and we want them to have a good time. We like to let them finish. Some groups struggle, and you got to get in there and walk them through it, but at the end of it, even the most frustrated players come out of it laughing and having a good time.”

Another aspect that makes Narrow Escape unique is the fact players will never be put in a room with strangers.

“That's the thing a lot of other rooms will do, and we were kind of playing with that idea, but when we got into COVID, we realized we can't be putting strangers and groups together,” Ryan explained. “That's why we went with the room minimum, so now if you book four players, you've got the whole room to yourself. There won't be strangers in there that you don't know. We found most players (prefer that). It's a team game, so you don't want that kind of awkwardness between your team of not knowing or being able to communicate with them.”

Although Narrow Escape Granbury has served as a popular entertainment venue for Hood County, Ryan said he still regularly meets people who have no idea an escape room in town even exists.

“I can’t believe it, because we market so much, but there’s still so many people that we just can’t reach,” he said. “But we’re still doing great. The community seems to support us really well.”

“We call ourselves the best kept secret in Granbury,” Sarah chimed in.

Ryan recommends players head online to to reserve a room, as walk-ins will not be guaranteed the spot they want.

Tickets for an escape room are $30 per person. If guests book a room for a timeslot before 5 p.m. on a weekday, tickets are $25 each.

Narrow Escape Granbury is open from 2-8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 2-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 2-8 p.m. on Sundays. The entertainment venue is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

For more information or to book a room at Narrow Escape Granbury, visit online.