There is a new game room in Salem that is generating a lot of buzz. Located at 1334 W. Main Street next to the Sheetz gas station, Escape Key is the only area business of its kind. At its core, Escape Key is puzzle game where players have fun with ordinary objects in an extraordinary way.
“The name came up while we were brainstorming. We wanted to be clear about being an escape game. We both like the key iconography,” said Will Bebout who runs the business with his wife Emily. “Turning a key in the lock is a clear signal that you have succeeded and in the context of an escape game, it is a sweet victory.”
Currently there are two available game rooms – “The Magician’s Vanishing Act” and “The Curious Case of Professor Hugh Manitee”. A third room is currently being discussed.
“We designed both rooms, but they have dramatically different presentations. ‘The Magician’s Vanishing Act’ has been the most popular, probably because it’s a good room to start with,” Emily said. “’The Curious Case of Professor Hugh Manitee’ provides a bit more of a challenge while still remaining accessible to first timers and experienced players.”
Emily worked at DeRolf Animal Hospital for a few years. It was there that she gained invaluable experience on ways how to successfully run a business.
When it came time to securing a business loan, the Bebout’s made sure that they did their due diligence. “We had to do a lot of research and worked with the Roanoke Small Business Development center to learn the ropes,” Emily said. “They showed us that it really is possible to start your own company.”
A bible study session in 2011 is where Will and Emily met. After dating for a few years, the two tied the knot in 2014. “We joke that for our third anniversary, we got ourselves a business,” Will said.
As cliché as it sounds, the Bebout’s truly believe that hard work does pay off. The two define success for Escape Key by being able to pay its bills. Both still have their day jobs but are hopeful that they can also focus the necessary attention to their new business. “We hope that as a business, we can find our place in the Salem community and that people will enjoy coming here,” Will said.