At the corner of Division and Weston in downtown Grand Rapids sits a building that begs the question, “Will you make it out alive?”
The newly renovated, historic space is now home to The Ruse Escape Rooms.
Best friends since kindergarten, co-owners Bill Wiegandt and Steve Myers have been working tirelessly to prepare for the grand opening on Black Friday, Nov. 24.
“My partner Steve, it was kind of his initial idea. He had been living in the Czech Republic for about six years as a math teacher and he really kind of digs on strategy and the puzzle-solving aspect of the business,” co-owner Bill Wiegandt said. “He saw it as a big thing over there in Europe, Germany, etcetera. He just moved back home to Grand Rapids and started a family. He thought it would be a good idea to bring to town and reached out to me. I had a little more of the business background so we kind of put our heads together and decided it would be a good idea.”
Escape rooms are an up-and-coming form of high-energy, active entertainment. Guests have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and challenges that promote creative thinking, teamwork and communication to escape from a room before time runs out.
The Ruse is not the first to execute this new entertainment in Grand Rapids, but Wiegandt believes it stands out from others in the industry.
“We’re definitely not the first to do it in Grand Rapids but we’re one-hundred percent local, not a franchise, and we’re also 100 percent custom. So, every puzzle, every part of the design process and every part of the manufacturing and the build is between myself and my partner.”
The Ruse offers tickets and packages that work for everyone. The social booking allows for anyone to buy a ticket individually and join a group of other individuals. The private booking is offered for groups to rent out an entire room for a party. The head-to-head booking is for private parties to rent out two rooms and compete against each other to escape first.
Wiegandt hopes the community will see value in using The Ruse to help with problem-solving in local businesses.
“We’d love to be a service that’s available, not necessarily saying that everyone has problems they need to solve, but what a fun way to shake it up, come on down, and have a fun experience.”
Unlike other local escape rooms, The Ruse is taking its services a step further to encompass this idea of helping its local community.
“We also have this conference room, which no other escape room in town has. What we want to do is, since we’re already expecting that people are going to want to use the experience for team building or just getting people together, take it one step further and let the experience be a meaning maker for something that they can learn from,” Wiegandt said.
The Ruse will have two room themes for its grand opening: The Inventor’s Guild and The Hunter’s Trophy Room.
“The space is super unique, so with that we tried to pair our themes around that same kind of high-end, vintage theme, we used the exposed filament and Edison lightbulbs everywhere. The rooms themselves will have those same kind of vibes,” said Wiegandt.
From corporate outings to family fun, The Ruse is great for all ages. “We’ve had families that come in, from teenagers to grandma and grandpa, they say we love it, we want to come back for the family Christmas party,” Wiegandt said.
With all the fun The Ruse hopes to bring, Wiegandt wants people to know they’re “really hoping that part of our business is a service to this community.”
For more information or to book a room, visit https://www.the-ruse.com/.